July Fourth: New York City
Hundreds of thousands line the banks of the East and Hudson Rivers awaiting the nationâs largest fireworks display. Soon the sky will explode in cascading showers of silver and gold. Everywhere, faces will turn skyward in wide-eyed wonder.
Then the sky will grow dark againâbut it will not be empty. The air will be filled with clouds of smoke and specks of debris will rain down everywhere. Some will pick bits of paper from their childrenâs hair. Some will brush away still-burning sparks or embers. And some will absentmindedly scratch at the tiny, biting specks that dot their necks and arms.
Will the beginning of the show mark the beginning of the end?
Thatâs what FBI agent Nathan Donovan must decide. When he is forced to enlist the help of ex-wife Macy Monroe, and expert in the psychology of terrorism, the fireworks really beginâbut she may be the only one who can help him stop the Plague maker in time.
âPlague Maker is a novel that can proudly be shelved beside any [book] featuring Crichton or Clancy and hold its own.â
After strong debut and sophomore novels (Shoofly Pie; Chop Shop), Downs hits his stride in this delightful faith-based thriller. FBI Special Agent Nathan Donovan acts fearlessly, but he's haunted by an event in his past that drives his reckless behavior. A puzzling murder case in which thousands of fleas are released in a room leads to a cameo appearance by forensic entomologist Dr. Nick Polchak, the Bug Man from Downs's earlier novels. The fleas are the ideal vehicle for bubonic plague, and New York is the perfect target. Things get dicey when a Chinese octogenarian known as Li has information that could lead to solving the case--if Li doesn't seek his own revenge first. More complications arise when Donovan's ex-wife gets involved, and we discover the roots of Donovan's anger and fear. As the story unfolds, Downs evenhandedly dispenses humor, interesting technical details and the trademark "ick" factor that characterizes his previous books. He throws in enough surprises and unusual events to keep the story fresh, and he's learned how to hold a novel together through the closing pages. The real plagues, Downs suggests, are fear, hatred and a thirst for revenge, and he manages to convey the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation without too much sermonizing. This is Downs's best book to date. (Jan. 10)
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September 04, 2006
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