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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Quantico by Greg Bear

Quantico by Greg Bear. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Vanguard Press, 2007. ISBN: 978-1-59315-445-5

Now THIS is a truly scary novel. Set in the near immediate future, it imagines how a biological terrorist might plan and stage a serious attack. In fact, it purports (fictionally, of course) to tell us who “Amerithrax” was. As you know, they've never yet caught or uncovered the person who mailed Anthrax to various offices in 2001.

But this scare goes much beyond that. Ultimately, a rogue former FBI agent plans to unleash a much scarier threat into the world, a variant of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, mad cow disease. Only this variant causes memory loss. People who are infected don't remember much of anything from more than a year or two before. They still have their personalities, their language, habits, skills, just no memory of who or what they were.

And, after testing the virus on an unsuspecting small town in the midwest, the terrorist's next target is Mecca at the height of the Haj, the annual pilgrimage that brings hundreds of thousands into the area.

Our heroes are a couple of FBI agents, one just out of the academy, whose father, a veteran agent himself, is one of the first victims of the memory erasing virus, and the other, a battle-hardened weary woman who has been tracking this rogue agent across the country and across the years.

Mix in a political climate in which the FBI is about to literally be shut down and eliminated, so distrustful is the current administration in the White House. Add in various other covert law enforcement agencies all mixing it up to their own advantage whenever possible.

This is not only science fiction, it's a thriller, par excellence. A real barn burner of a page turner that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Highly recommended.

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