These lazy days of summer sometimes need a little action, and a novel packed with rousing adventures is the ticket to losing oneself in the nefarious world of a terror campaign with a biological terrorism bent. This is fourth in my series of book reviews; I hope that my recommendations inspire you to read these books.
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“BioKill” by Stuart Handley is novel bursting with intrigue, action, a terrorist cell, biological warfare, electrifying chases, lusty scenes, murder, mutilation, a cat fight, government subterfuge, escape, humor, and remarkable characters in an extraordinary plot.
While a terrorist cell conspires bioterrorism in the United States, Matt Lilburn, an American special agent with Homeland Security, finds himself on the case, along with the British Dr. Evangeline Crawston and a slew of memorable protagonists ranging from a tentative neighbor lady, to the virtually hilarious gang of the five Bloods, the bizarre chief of Homeland Security, the owners of an aviation business, and, of course, the terror cell inmates composed of Bomani, Bashir, and Yusuf, just to name a very few of the rich cast of personalities.
The author is astute in his use of scene-changing within the novel. He cleverly and seamlessly moves his story, chapter to chapter, from Brooklyn, to England, and to places within the United States with such deft smoothness that the reader easily follows the action without questioning or backtracking to previous pages to re-read. Indeed, whereas one chapter may be taking place in Brooklyn and the next in London and later, on a pig farm in New England, Stuart Handley ties each scene so well to another it’s as if the entire novel is akin to a quilt of individual blocks with no visible seams at all.
The players in the novel are real and well-developed, and where necessary, the author gives them accents and vocal modulations. For example, Alessio enunciates his accent well: “I see you ‘ave brought a friend . . . I canna but try.” We can hear neighbor Bonny as she talks to the police: “I was gonna get back on the phone and tell you to . . . bust those A-rabs . . . I see you brought the whole dang station wid you!” We get indignant along with blonde Timothy the caterer/waiter as he “let out his own shriek” when he exclaims that he “’ordered lilac-colored napkins, lilac, not … blue.” Timothy owns and operates The Galloping Caterers, and I could not help to give Timothy a slight, albeit faux, British accent in my mind to go along with his hissy fit, because the name The Galloping Caterers reminds me of the late British gourmand Graham Kerr of The Galloping Gourmet. And when the “lucky” five Bloods found the red Nissan Maxima and attempted to drive it, the manual transmission threw them for a hilarious loop: “Yo man, I seen on the movies – this car had one of those things and you got to push something in with your foot to make it go . . .”
Yet, there was something so real and creepy when the members of the terrorist cell, Bomani, Bashir, and Yusuf spoke. “Yusuf and I go to a cattle auction” “ . . . when we have finished our work for Allah . . . we return to our home and assimilate ourselves back into Western society.” Their voices and personalities are real and wicked, and Stuart Handley captures this flawlessly. Bomani, in particular, has a distinct voice in using variances in verb usage and not uttering contractions.
I enjoy Stuart’s writing style. It is very vivid, descriptive and intelligent. He uses foul language sparsely, as in those moments when characters are so totally shocked or frustrated that a four-letter word slips out. Lusty scenes are tasteful and allow the reader to envision all the naughty little details within the imagination. Stuart’s background in livestock production and an inspector for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), et al gives authority to his novel.
There are a few instances within the novel where the author (who is from New Zealand) moves from American English to British English, such as “bonnet” for a car “hood,” “petrol tank” instead of “gas tank,” “mobile” for “cell phone,” “air-sock” for “wind sock,” “windscreen” for “windshield,” and a technical description of a helicopter’s speed measured in miles per hour, when airspeed is actually measured in knots. I caught the aviation-related points immediately, since I have a long background and career in the aviation field. It stuck out for me. Yet, I believe it all will not take away from the story for most readers.
Admittedly, this is the first novel in this genre that I have read. I was not disappointed at all. Moreover, I cannot say enough positive statements about “BioKill.” It produces non-stop action; it lays out a very real and plausible evil; it brings a little lightness to round out the reality; and it makes the reader think, laugh, and become more aware of contemporary events.
I highly recommend “BioKill” by Stuart Handley, and if I rated this novel on a five-star scale, I would give it six stars.
Yes; it’s that good.
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