Deadly Passage is a multi-layered, high seas, adventure-thriller novel of bioterrorism in a post 9/11 world. The novel operates on several levels not commonly encountered in a high-octane thriller, including insights into the terrorists, their backgrounds, rationale, and subtle conflicts within the communities from which they have been drawn that ultimately condition their decisions and actions. The responses of US governmental agencies mirror these diverse perspectives.
Andy Reiss, a physician, Jesse his registered-nurse wife, and Rachel, their barely teenage daughter, head home on their sailboat, Prophecy, after five years at sea touring the world. They thought they'd dealt with every imaginable experience at sea. When Prophecy comes upon a sailboat adrift, they discover two young Americans, a brother and his sister. After bringing them aboard, both break out with a rash that Andy identifies as a deadly virus. Soon it becomes clear that they've inadvertently rescued two homegrown terrorists intent on bringing a deadly virus to the Miami area. Soon the disease is full-blown, sealing the fates of the terrorists and all those they encounter. Andy, Jesse, and Rachel must deal with the unwanted guests, their disease, the Cuban Navy, an approaching hurricane, and the U.S. Coast Guard turning them away from safety, operating under the influence of conflicting political and operational motivations in the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard, and the oval office. The shocking and unexpected denouements leave us twisting in uncertain winds reminiscent of On the Beach.
Andy released the dock lines from Adios, and stepped back onto Prophecy. As the boats drifted apart, Andy thought, two youngsters at sea and, Carlos Mendoza missing; blood in the cockpit and on the lifelines—what in hell happened aboard Adios?
After having spent five years living on their sailboat discovering new places, the Reiss family – Andy, Jesse, their daughter Rachel and the dog Reggie – decides it is time for the adventure to end. What was supposed to be a quiet and straightforward return to Florida is however troubled when they rescue two Americans who are not as innocent as they appear. They have to discover their secret... and there is no time for thought as the risk of a hurricane in the area increases every hour.
In Deadly Passage, Lawrence Gold takes us to a terrifying world full of terrorism, politics and natural catastrophes at high sea. Between reality and science-fiction, this thrilling novel will make the readers hold their breath until the last pages.
The story starts slowly as we get to know the Reiss family and their unusual life at sea on Prophecy. The vocabulary used is specific, but general concepts can be understood easily, even by people who – like me – do not know anything about sailing. The descriptions of the places they visit and their activities are vivid and full of details. We also obtain a good overview of the characters’ nature and background, not only in the case of Andy, Jesse and Rachel, but also of every other person we meet in the book.
This first part offers a strong contrast with the rest of the plot. As soon as the Americans, Ryan and Nicole, arrive on the Prophecy, the pace of the action quickens and everything seems to go wrong. Events take a bad turn not only for Andy, Jesse and Rachel, but also for the US, Cuba, and several other nations. As the tension builds up, we hope with the characters that a ‘happy ending’ will be possible, but everything seems hounded by misfortune. The last chapter is a masterstroke; not too cheesy, not too appalling, rather open... A perfect ending!
The plot itself is rather simple, playing with bioterrorism and including several story lines which finally come together. There are however several groups of people included and it is not always easy to understand each one’s interests, especially because many abbreviations are used to make the reading easier. It can therefore be useful to have basic knowledge about History, mainly about the relationship between Cuba and the United Stated of America, the political system of the USA, Al-Qaeda and the Middle-East.
At that point, I must admit I feared that the plot would become too political. Fortunately, it was not the case; although the CIA, the American and Cuban Presidents and several other important organisations are involved in the whole affair, we do not go into too much detail. It does not always appear to be very realistic, but I actually enjoyed this simplification, as it made the main elements clearer and easier to understand and, after all, it is a work of fiction. I also appreciated the fact that the book was no propaganda, as is often the case with such controversial themes. Yes, there are ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’, but we are offered various point of view and understand easily that nothing is as simple as black or white.
Deadly Passage is a very good thriller dealing with matters that could well happen in the current world. The pleasant writing style, the captivating plot and Lawrence Gold’s obvious knowledge of sailing, ships and medicine make Deadly Passage an amazing read which I recommend to anybody interested in good crime books. I would like to thank the author for providing me with a copy of this book, thus enabling me to discover a great literary world in which I will undoubtedly travel again in the future.
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