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    Review of PLAGUE MAKER by Tim Downs

    WestBow, January 2006

    The man had a bullet hole through his head--cause of death no mystery. What is a mystery is that he is surrounded by fleas--all dead. That was enough to bring in FBI Agent and anti-terrorism specialist Nathan Donovan. Donovan knows that fleas are the perfect vector for many diseases, including diseases targetted for biological warfare and biological terror. Still, these particular fleas might be unusual Asian Rat Fleas rather than the cat fleas more commonly seen in America, but they tested negative for disease. Donovan might have filed the investigation under 'worry about later' except that an elderly Chinese man contacts him with interesting, but possibly crackpot information. Could one of the Japanese scientists involved in biological research during World War II still have a grudge against America so deep he'd attempt to release the black plague on an unsuspecting continent? And did he really have access to plague viruses genetically weaponized to be resistant to every known antibiotic?

    Donovan, together with the mysterious Mr. Li, and Donovan's ex-wife Macy, conclude that the danger is too real to be ignored. Still, how can they find Japanese scientist who'd vanished sixty years earlier?

    Author Tim Downs delivers up a conflicted and wounded hero in Donovan. Mr. Li, though, steals the show with his Chinese words of wisdom, his Christian common sense (and yes, PLAGUE MAKER is a Christian-oriented story), and his determination to see his sixty-year-old mission of tracking down the dangerous scientist Matsushita.

    Downs' strong writing and fast-moving story grips the reader early and kept me engaged through the story. A couple of choices mystified me, however. I'm not sure of the logic behind the Arab terrorists' decision to change the terror plan. Given that they had changed the plan, it didn't make a lot of sense to me that they would bother bringing Matsushita along with them on their mission. And Mr. Li might have been just a little too perfect.

    Overall, though, I have no hesitation in recommending PLAGUE MAKER.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 1/30/06

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