Authors: David R. Fett and Stephen Langford

Publisher: Synergy Books

ISBN: 978-0-9845040-2-2

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We fiction writers have an interesting trade. Like actors on a stage, our primary job is to entertain, even though we often are introverted people rather than extroverted. Counter to the pundits’ expectations, people are reading more than ever. Devices like the Kindle and the Nook allow readers to download everything from the latest N.Y. Times bestseller to newspapers and magazines—or should I say e-papers and e-zines? Today’s digital publishing revolution provides writers many ways to reach our reading audience and, hopefully, to entertain them.

I can only imagine how difficult that was to do before Gutenberg. The great fiction sagas like Beowulf and the Iliad certainly weren’t bestsellers in that primarily illiterate ancient world—in fact, I often wonder how many ancient literary gems were lost in the moldy corridors of time. Today, even as the onslaught of mindless TV shows conspires to numb his brain, the avid reader has much from which to choose. Genres and subgenres sprout like weeds. The techno-thriller is one particularly dear to me.

We thriller writers must craft in this new era of publishing especially entertaining stories, because our readers want to jump on a speeding roller coaster of a plot and hold on for dear life. They want their emotions to suffer through the ups and downs of the protagonist who is confronting almost insurmountable odds on his way to achieving a successful conclusion. They want, quite frankly, one hell of a story. These are the stories I like to write. This is the story they will find in White Sleeper.

There are many variations even within the thriller genre. In the techno-thriller or sci-fi thriller, science and technology play a fundamental role. The sci-fi version tends to be more futuristic, but both stretch our minds in a way that seems to make the impossible possible. Moreover, the technology and science can be tools used by both villains and heroes. All these distinctions are somewhat academic—the avid reader recognizes an interesting story when he reads it and rarely worries about the subtle points of genre classification. Let’s throw White Sleeper in the techno-thriller pigeon hole and continue.

The plot here might seem blasé by now—the heroes of the story must stop a terrorist attack. As in my own novel The Midas Bomb and the novel The 19th Element by John L. Betcher, which I reviewed earlier for Book Pleasures, the unusual twist here is that different terrorist groups with very different goals combine forces in order to hatch an evil and deadly plan. Nevertheless, there the similarities end. The terrorists’ weapons in each case are very different—similarly the targets. Maybe we thriller authors are giving would-be terrorists too many ideas—something I would find more interesting to debate than genre classification.

The principal villain in White Sleeper is the white supremacist Ben Curran, an intelligent albeit mentally disturbed case bent on using biological warfare as his terrorist weapon of choice. He is out to revenge the ATF’s slaughter of his family, reminiscent of some of the real FBI cases that occurred in Idaho. Dr. Dave Richards, disgraced CDC doctor, joins teams with FBI agent Paula Mushari to stop Curran. Both of our heroes have other battles to fight—Dave, far down in the CDC pecking order due to his alcoholism, and Paula, limited to undesirable FBI postings due to her Arab ancestry. This is standard thriller writing technique—have some likeable but flawed heroes jump over hurdles of either their own or society’s making on their way to saving the world or, in this case, saving the tens of thousands that would die from the dispersal of a biological agent that causes a deadly disease.

Curran, our villain, teams up with an Arab sleeper cell. I’m not sure Mr. bin Laden’s gang of cutthroats is actually mentioned by name, so the cell might belong to some other jihadist group bent on sowing mayhem among the infidels. I found it a wee bit unbelievable how Ben teams up with the Arabs, though. It’s not that I can’t imagine terrorists in New York City—what other target is more likely?—but that they end up neighbors in the same apartment building is far too coincidental. In fact, they meet in the laundry room. That was the only point in the story, however, that interrupted my roller coaster ride, but it does mar a fine example of suspense writing.

You will get on this roller coaster and hold on for dear life. If you don’t, I will have to come and check your carotid pulse to see if you’re dead. To use an abused cliché, this is a real page-turner! There were only a few places where I could stop, catch my breath, and add some more ice and a jigger of fine Irish whiskey to my glass. I didn’t want to put the book down. Moreover, as I cruised through the pages, I carried in the back of my mind the burning question: how did the authors pull this off?

You see, I can’t imagine how a writing team can produce a novel like this. Perhaps it is Mr. Lanford, the writer/producer, plying the tools of his trade, and Dr. Fett, the assistant clinical professor, filling in the technical details. Nevertheless, everything meshes seamlessly and effortlessly. These gentlemen must be great friends and motivated by one and the same muse. Let’s hope we see more output from this dynamic duo.

Click Here To Purchase White Sleeper