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Plague by H.W. Buzz Bernard
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Plague (edition 2012)

by H.W. "Buzz" Bernard

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4128279,442 (3.48)1
Member:mrdoan72
Title:Plague
Authors:H.W. "Buzz" Bernard
Info:Bell Bridge Books (2012), Paperback, 250 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

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Plague by H.W. Bernard (Author)

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“We produce bout 100 metric tons per year of weaponized variola virus. Smallpox.” Uri Sherbokov – designated escort, minder, keeper – Plague

"I studied at Emory University in America." – Alnour Barashi – Terrorist – Plague

"We had begun working on the biological warfare issue in 1993, after the World Trade Center bombing made it clear that terrorism could strike at home, and a defector from Russia had told us that his country had huge stocks of anthrax, smallpox, Ebola, and other pathogens, and had continued to produce them even after the demise of the Soviet Union."– Bill Clinton

Plague
[pleyg] noun
1. an epidemic disease that causes high mortality; pestilence.
2. an infectious, epidemic disease caused by a bacterium, Yersinia pestis, characterized by fever, chills, and prostration, transmitted to humans from rats by means of the bites of fleas. Compare bubonic plague, pneumonic plague, septicemic plague.
3. any widespread affliction, calamity, or evil, especially one regarded as a direct punishment by God: a plague of war and desolation. -Websters Merriam Dictionary 2013


I am very much of two minds about this book, and for two very different reasons. I put a great deal of thought into my review after reading, and still am torn.

To get this out of the way, I am not fond of the writing style. The exposition is thin, the characters are more ‘caricatures’ and it could stand a good editor who can help the writer more fully realize his plotting and characterizations.

With that out of the way, let’s talk terrorism, level-4 containment, and the ease of foreign terrorists gaining use of facilities. We know other countries are creating biological weapons, as are we. “An offensive biological program was begun in 1942 under the direction of a civilian agency, the War Reserve Service (WRS). The Army Chemical Warfare Service was given responsibility and oversight for the effort. The mounting threat of the German buzz bombs that were raining on England from launching sites on the Continent during 1943 spurred the urgency of BW (biological warfare) defense because it was thought that these high-explosive rockets might easily be converted into efficient weapons for massive BW attacks.”(Weapons of Mass Destruction: http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/systems/bw.htm)

Things haven’t slowed down since 1942, and in some countries, especially Middle Eastern and the former Soviet states, it has increase dramatically. Given the state of world terrorism, it is not if, but when we will have to face yet another bioterror attack, such as the anthrax attacks of 2001. How it happens, and what the outcome is up in the air, but it will happen, and it will be horrific.

Bernard’s "Plague" addresses this issue, given a situation where the terrorist is an employee of a level-4 laboratory. The scenario is plausible, though some don’t seem to agree with me. Employees have the run of their labs, and can come and go at need, making it simple for them to hide what they are doing. As another reviewer said (paraphrased) “just like at Wendy’s.” There are thousands of foreigners working at highly secure facilities all around the United States, making it easy for a foreign terrorist to gain access if their cover is deep enough. Besides, we have own own, “home grown” terrorists as well who are just as dangerous, though usually on a par with high school educations rather than high-level virologists. I had no problem believing that part of the story. I could even see a foreign government being involved in the ownership of one of these facilities. Apparently, American corporations are more about the money than they are the safety of the people. But be that neither here nor there.

The writing simply wasn’t believable. Like many, I am a huge fan of the nonfiction work “The Hot Zone” and others in the vein. I adore heavily scientific works based around this theme, whether they be fiction or non-fiction. However, this one didn’t reach the level of excellence I had hoped for. If Bernard had spent more time on exposition, I might possibly have found the work more interesting. However, the characters just didn’t feel realistic. They were stilted and in at least one case, cartoonish.

While the overall idea was good, in the end, the book was simply a disappointment for me.
( )
  soireadthisbooktoday | May 4, 2014 |
This book is simply awful. I have a weakness for apocalyptic scenarios, and plague is certainly a subset of this genre. It has been done many times, sometimes brilliantly (Andromeda Strain and The Hot Zone come immediately to mind). This rather weak effort clocks in at about 250 pages, but every trick in the book has been used to stretch it to that length. It has dozens of chapters that leave of mid page. The margins are large, as is the type. The chapter headings take up half a page, buttressed by large, bold recitals of dates and locations, even though the events of the story take place over the course of two days, all in Atlanta, Georgia. Boiled down, what we have is an incredibly thin story that can be read in four hours, easy.

The scenario is ridiculous. An Islamic terrorist has somehow gained total control over the Level 4, biohazard containment facility of a domestic biotechnology firm. How could this possibly happen? Who knows, the author glosses over this as if it were a common occurrence. He is on the verge of releasing an airborne Ebola strain that promises to wipe out millions of Americans. Our hero, an interim CEO who steps in after all upper level management are murdered by our terrorist friend, cracks the case within 48 hours, saving the world from certain destruction.

The characters in the book are as one dimensional as you could possibly imagine. The dialogue is laughably atrocious. I promise, you will wince at some of the things that come from the characters’ mouths. The events in the book, designed to promote an increasing level of suspense, instead left me rolling my eyes.

This is not good. ( )
  santhony | Jun 12, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I very much enjoyed the plot (five stars), but found expression of the plot in words to lacking in a few places (four stars), hence my high rating. If you enjoy this kind of thriller, you'll enjoy Plague. Recommended. ( )
  RGaryRasmussen | Mar 16, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I actually liked the pace of the book. It moved quickly. Only a few characters. A very simple plot. The one character that was not explained was Karen. She was so important to Richard that you would expect to learn more about their life together. The Ebola premise was scary and sad to say a possible threat. I do agree with other reviewers, it would be a great T.V. episode. ( )
  Almadmc | Mar 13, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Bernard's "Plague" defies genre identification a bit. It is definitely a fast-paced action thriller but beyond that it's a bit difficult to pin down. There's not really enough hard science to fall into the medical thriller category and it's also a bit light on the espionage to fall into the spy/military thriller arena. In fact, my chief issue with the novel is it's brevity. At barely over 200 pages, the story rushed to conclusion without sufficient plot or character development for my taste. In fact, reminded me a bit of an episode of the TV series 24... rush through the action to get to the end.

Now, that being said, I did enjoy what little there was of "Plague". I thought Wainwright made a believable (if a bit obsessive) temporary CEO. I also found the Atlanta PD and FBI characters enjoyable (even if a bit stereotypical).

Given Bernard's bio as presented in the novel, I'll be picking up a copy of "Eyewall" to see if his storytelling is a bit more thorough when involving a topic more directly based on his background.

2.5 stars out of 5. ( )
  FinsRandL | Mar 10, 2013 |
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"In only a matter of days, 9/11 and the destruction of the Twin Towers will be rivaled by a lone-wolf terrorist attack on America. Atlanta is targeted as Ground Zero for the most horrifying plague in modern times. Deep in the secret recesses of a Cold War lab, the Russians created tons of deadly bio-weapons. Now, decades later, a protégé of that Russian research is about to release weaponized Ebola into the heart of South's most iconic city: Atlanta, where the symbols of American 'decadence' range form a happily diverse population to the Coca-Cola museum and CNN building. A preliminary test of the horrifying virus demonstrates the unspeakable suffering of its victims--and alerts the Centers for Disease Control that a terrible pandemic is in the making..."--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

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