Thursday, October 26, 2006

Whiteout, by Ken Follet

I will have to make this quick because I don't know how long I will have internet today. I am in the midst of firing Cox high-speed internet and getting the dreaded Bellsouth DSL back. At least with Bellsouth I had service all day instead of my current half-the-time experience.

Ken Follett is one of the best of the old spy novel genre. His first, The Eye of the Needle, published back in the late 70s, was the beginning of a long list of espionage/romance thrillers that had you glued to the story from beginning to end.

After the cold war ended, Follett groped for the right villains, but it just wasn't the same. He went after eco-terrorists in The Hammer of Eden, but it was a sub-par effort. He also tried reclaiming the past with Code to Red and The Hornet's Nest, but the old magic seemed to be missing. Then we suddenly had terrorist organizations after weapons of mass destruction, and Mr. Follett found his footing again.

Bravo! This has the right mix of dangerous, psychopathic killers and family intrigues to have you on the edge of your seat.

An upper class English family has everything we need: a widower scientist who owns a virus research firm, his proper daughter who has married a milquetoast professor, a bossy daughter who has married a lothario, a son who has gambled his way into debt to an organized crime boss, and a couple of randy teenaged cousins and other assorted small ones, all trapped in a house during a blizzard over the Christmas holiday. And this holiday is the perfect time for the black-sheep son to pay off his debt by helping the crime boss burgle the research firm.

The son used to do the computer work for his dad's firm, until he got busted by the company's security chief, a former cop named Toni who has the hots for the widower. It's the umpteenth time the thirty-something failure has let down his dad, and he is sinking deeper and deeper into debt when an opportunity to pay off the debt comes in the form of a heist. As an inside man, he can get them past security to get something for a third party with deep pockets. The son thinks it's just simple greed that drives this enterprise, until the night of the theft, when the people he gets into the lab start taking all the samples of a rare, incurable virus that could wipe out whole populations.

This book is rated R for sexual content, and gets 5 stars for being a terrific story that leaves you wanting another. Welcome back, Mr. Follett!

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