Author: David J. Bain
Publisher: Boiti Press
To rapidly hook his readers and provide an up front story question, David J. Bain in his debut novel, Torn Blood quickly outlines in the Prologue a background that will give us reason enough to keep turning the pages to find out the answer.
Straight off, readers are taken into North Kazakhstan and the Stepnogorsk Scientific and Technical Institute for Microbiology where a presentation is taking place concerning a variation of anthrax that will be used against the Israelis and dispersed as airborne particles, invisible to the naked eye with no discernible scent, only detectable through the use of specialized equipment. Apparently, when this poison is released, only the Israelis will be obliterated as the Arabs will be immunized with a single aerosol vaccination that is unknown to the Israelis. Under what guise these inoculations will take place as well as how and from where the anthrax will be dispersed is the subject of the ensuing chapters.
From this starting point the novel patterns three separate compelling story lines each inter-related to one another. The first thread concerns a U.S. Dept of State consular officer, Addison Edmond Deverell who is assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. Addison arrives in Israel three weeks before his scheduled reporting date as he is determined to get a “feel” for the country and to find out why for so many years there has been never ending animosity and hatred between Jews and Arabs. As Addison would painfully learn, he never anticipated the problems his early presence would cause and did not realize that embassies function under specific rules and protocol. In breaching one of these rules, he forces the Embassy's Deputy Administrator to find him an escort until his reporting date.
Hafiz IbnMansur is called in from East Jerusalem, where he was employed as an Israeli guide for in-country tours and orientations. He is charged with the task of acting as Addison's escort, however, because he could not stay with him until his reporting date, a young woman, Elizabeth Daniels of Messianic Jews International replaces him. Addison is quite cocky and stubborn and does not want to only visit Israel but also is determined to travel to the West Bank and Gaza to get a better understanding of the Arab Israeli conflict. Little does he realize that this would embroil him in a dangerous life threatening nightmare involving not only himself, but also his guide Elizabeth and two young Arabs that have been manipulated by some deceitful extremists.
Another thread involves a school administrator, Dr. Janelle Henning from Wilsonville, Oregon who receives a mysterious letter from the Ukraine that will lead to her discovery of some very staggering data about herself and her natural parents. And if you are wondering how she fits into the story and her relationship with Addison, you will have to read the novel.
And then we have the real “bad guys,” the Palestine Mujahideen Islamic Jihad (PMIJ) that call for the complete annihilation of Israel and its Jewish inhabitants. To accomplish this feat they devise an imaginative scheme requiring the participation of several of their venomous associates whereby anthrax will be discharged from the tallest building in Jerusalem. This in turn will mean the recruitment of several Israelis who will be deployed on the single greatest mission Israel has faced since its creation.
Bain has created a chilling story with an exciting mix of suspense, history, travelogue, current events and some touching characters. Obviously, he has done his homework in re-creating the historical setting of the novel. I also commend his ability to reveal characters in their actions, gestures, dialogue and poignant reflections all adding to their authenticity.
This is not to say that the novel is without its shortcomings as regrettably Bain has succumbed to a common trap plaguing many debut authors-overwriting that hampers the yarn. This ambitious novel should not have exceeded 350 pages, instead it has been drawn out to 562 pages, way too much on the plate with too many story lines. A good content editor would have chopped several chapters and made the writing and plot much tighter. And unless you are J.K.Rowling, Stephen King or others who have succeeded writing massive books, it is best you adhere to the adage quality over quantity.
Nonetheless, I have to admit that by the time you have completed the reading of this novel, the scary realism and emotions may make you believe it is true. Could this really happen would make for a good dinner conversation.
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