Hiya guys! Today I’m participating in a review tour hosted by Roger Charlie, for a brand new thriller – Mind Virus. My review is below, so be sure to check that out, and let me know what you think in the comments below!
~Released: July 1st, 2017
~Parent’s Guide: PG-17
~Genres: Adult Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Robin Fox is a peace-loving professor of world religions, trying to atone for his crimes as a U.S. Army interrogator. But at a Washington prayer rally, a suspect is caught trying to disperse a rare encephalitis virus, the same one used in an attack in Iraq that Fox once foiled. A CIA agent, John Adler, asks Fox for help.
Troubled by this request, Fox consults Emily Hart, his colleague at the United States Peace Research Institute and wife of its strongest supporter in Congress. She, however, has her own troubles. Leila Halabi, a Palestinian peace educator, has disappeared on the way to Washington for a lecture tour. Fox accepts Adler’s request, in exchange for the CIA’s help in finding Leila.
Fox works with a joint FBI-CIA interrogation team, and worries that Adler’s prejudice against Muslims is clouding his judgment. The suspect eventually reveals that he is part of an international conspiracy to eradicate religion, “using one virus to cure another”.
Fox deduces that the next attack is planned for Israel during Passover. Meanwhile, Emily learns that Leila has been imprisoned in Israel, and travels there to campaign for her release. Spurred by danger to the woman he loves – although he could never admit it, even to himself – Fox boards a plane that will reach Tel Aviv before her.
By careful observation, Fox catches another suspect at Ben-Gurion Airport. Now a hero to Israel, he persuades the head of Shin Bet to release Leila and let him interrogate the suspect.
He infers that the next attack is planned for Jerusalem on Holy Saturday. Joined by Adler, he sets up surveillance at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, but fails to prevent an explosion.
Suspecting that this attack was a diversion, Fox reinterprets his clues and concludes that the real target is the Vatican. He and Adler fly to Rome in time to catch a suspect in the act of planting an aerosol device in the dome of St. Peter’s during Easter Vigil Mass. Fox breaks her silence by intimating that her love for the group’s mastermind has been betrayed. She reveals the name by which she knows him, and gives up enough information to identify the next target: Westminster Abbey, at an Easter service with the Royal Family attending. But at the same time, he receives a menacing message: Emily has been abducted by the mastermind, who threatens to kill her if any cameras catch Fox there.
Fox goes to London, enters the Abbey in disguise, and uncovers the most elaborate strategy yet: a sleeper agent in the Abbey choir planted the virus in a fire extinguisher, and used a time-release flammable agent to make the Archbishop’s vestments spontaneously combust.
After stopping the attack, Fox roughs up the suspect but learns nothing. His escort from the Security Service takes him to question the mastermind’s mentor at Oxford. Shocked to hear how his teachings have been twisted, he gives up a name: Theodore Gottlieb. They go to Gottlieb’s house, to find him calmly awaiting them with high tea and high explosives.
After a standoff, the bombs detonate and set fire to the house. Fox, cut off from the police, has to chase Gottlieb to the room where Emily is being held hostage. Using his military training, he succeeds in seizing Gottlieb’s pistol, but his principles of nonviolence will not allow him to shoot. They struggle, Gottlieb falls, and the firefighters rescue Fox and Emily in time.
They return to Washington. Adler has promised to tell the Saudis about the final target, Mecca during the Hajj, but Fox suspects he is lying and goes to the Saudi embassy himself. A furious phone call from Adler confirms his suspicions: the CIA was planning to let the attack proceed, and use an Army-designed antiserum to blackmail the entire Muslim world.
After launching Leila’s tour, Fox and Emily walk together through the GWU campus. He yearns to tell her that, when he was sure his life was over, his only thought was of her. But discretion trumps valor, and when they say goodnight, his true feelings for her are still a secret.
Charles Kowalski is almost as much a citizen of the world as his fictional character, Robin Fox, having lived abroad for over 15 years, visited over 30 countries, and studied over 10 languages. His unpublished debut novel, Mind Virus, won the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Colorado Gold Award and was a finalist for the Adventure Writers’ Competition, the Killer Nashville Claymore Award, and the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association literary award.
Charles currently divides his time between Japan, where he teaches English at a university, and his family home in Maine.
Mind Virus is scheduled for publication by Literary Wanderlust on July 1, 2017.
Other novels and short stories by Charles Kowalski:
“Let This Cup Pass From Me”
“Arise, My Love”
“The Evil I Do Not Mean To Do”
~ Connect with Charles Online ~
Goodreads ~ Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter
The next Dan Brown?
To some, the idea of being related to Dan Brown would be a compliment, while others would be insulted. Either way, my initial impression of the story and writing style reminded me of the famous author, and it stuck throughout the story. Mixing well-known political and economic tensions with fictional suspense and danger often makes for thrilling stories, and deserve a genre of their own.
The writing was quick and clear, painting endless pictures of each new scene with marvelous clarity. Diving into this alternate reality was easy, and with the state of our current world, I found myself wondering how realistic this story could truly be. While I had minor complaints here and there, the overall story was entertaining. For a debut novel, it could easily make a big name for itself in fictional thrillers.
My reasons for removing a rose can’t be explained without spoilers. Those reasons, however, are all personal, and not ones I think would specifically sway other readers, and aren’t gravely important. It was a good story, and a thrilling mix of situations and twists. I would recommend this book to others.
*I received a complimentary eCopy of this novel, from the author via Roger Charlie, to read in exchange for an honest review.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!
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