Rene Natan's The Blackpox Threat Reviewed By Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com
Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.
He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.
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Author: Rene Natan
Publisher: Old Line Publishing
Although I was somewhat disappointed with Rene Natan's The Blackpox Threat, it nonetheless did raise some disturbing troubling issues, particularly that we live in an age where terrorism can hit us anywhere and at any time and where bio-terrorism is quite feasible.
In this novel, set primarily in London, Ontario, Natan's plot focuses on a chemical that compounds the deadly effects of smallpox with those of ebola. A diplomat working in the Ukrainian Embassy in Ottawa gets wind of this and warns The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) that this hideous weapon is on its way to Canada. Apparently, the source of this weapon can be traced to a covert location in Western Ukraine where a natural fifty meter underground cave exists that had been the remains of an old research lab for the development of biological weapons.
The lab was established in the 1980s by the former Soviet Union and it is here where a microbiologist and chemist by the name of Youkenoff was initially involved with manufacturing beauty creams, emollient solutions and other skin products that he sold world-that is until he met another scientist, Frank Milton. The two hatch a plan that they believe would considerably enrich their bank accounts and which involved the creation of a deadly virus that would be used to blackmail the Canadian authorities into paying them a tremendous ransom.
When Brad Wilson, an agent of the CSIS finds out what is happening, he approaches our protagonist Tamara Smith and informs her that a shipment of this ghastly virus is on the loose and is about to enter Canadian soil and that it is imperative that she join their team in tracking down the culprits and preventing a possible calamity. The reason for choosing her was that she works for a small shipping company, “Ship Me Safely” owned by the Modano Company and they are suspect in the handling of the shipment. Moreover, as her job permits her to come and go as she pleases, she would be in an excellent position to follow any special leads-should such leads present themselves. Also, the boss of the CSIS believes she owes it to them to participate due to what they did for her mother and father in helping them escape the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, her parents were eventually murdered, however, the CSIS had always kept an eye on her and protected her from meeting the same fate as her parents.
Smith reluctantly agrees to join the CSIS team and in the process winds up becoming an amateur sleuth resulting in her coming into contact with several dangerous characters that continually place her into some very heart-stopping situations, not to mention that one of the members of the CSIS team is a mole and is attempting to sabotage the operation. In addition, she does not know whom to trust, even one of her male friends who is deeply attracted to her and does everything to please her. And what really spooks her is the murder of the Ukrainian diplomat who had initially informed the CSIS of the imminent danger of this hideous biological weapon; he was one of her closest and dearest friends.
One of my principal beefs about this novel is its lack of moment-by-moment tension that would have kept me in a constant state of suspense over what will happen until the last page. Unfortunately, this was absent in many scenes as well as in the dialogue between the protagonist and the secondary characters. In fact, I was not even thoroughly convinced that evil was at work as a result of the insidious behavior of the villains. Suspense depends on anticipation and to increase my anxiety, I needed to feel how improbable escape seemed to be, how drawn out was the approaching danger and how high were the stakes. Unfortunately, I felt none of these elements and as a result my interest waned towards the end of the novel.
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