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by Barth Anderson
Spectra, March 2006
384 pages
ISBN: 0553383582

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In the near future world economics have undergone a huge upheaval. The former great powers are now poor and formerly weak nations are the current leaders. Mexico is now one such a world power. Human, animal and plant diseases are running rampant throughout the world with medicine trying to keep up.

Suddenly a new form of a plague starts to show itself in Mexico, in its capital Mexico City. Almost before the World Health Organizations can even know it's there, people start dying in droves, including all of Mexico's leading medical researchers.

Henry David Stark is a respected American disease researcher, nicknamed the Patron Saint of Plagues because of the work he's done in fighting new illnesses. Because he rarely follows politically correct protocol when getting the information he desires, he's the first doctor outside of Mexico to recognize the deadly new strain of killer disease that has the potential to destroy the world's population. Even though there are strained political relations between Mexico and the US, he's called in to help fight the plague.

Before long, Henry discovers information that shows the new deadly disease to be man-made and that its spread was done on purpose. It's up to Henry to find the person spreading the disease and find a way to fight and conquer the plague before the world ends.

THE PATRON SAINT OF PLAGUES is a phenomenal book. The writing is engrossing. The characters are real and unforgettable, and are created as people with multi-layered personalities who speak in well-crafted dialogue.

The author, Barth Anderson, manages to create a world of the future that is marvelously advanced but realistically so. Science and technology has become very sophisticated and the politics of the world is completely changed, but the reader can easily feel as if they too are living there.

He creates scenes of such harrowing realism that you will find yourself shivering with ill ease. The bad guy, as mad as he is, is made to be human and recognizable as a real person. There are no broad cartoon characters here. The writer is even able to give the disease itself a voice and a personality that enables the non-scientific reader to understand just how such a pandemic illness can take over a body, and the world.

Though I am not usually a fan of medical thrillers, this one is exceptional. Rarely can you find a book that has so much tension combined with such good solid writing. The science and the medical portion of the story is written in such a clear fashion that every reader can understand the details -- no one has to take the writer's word for anything, it's all explained.

THE PATRON SAINT OF PLAGUES is one of the best books of a futuristic and medical thriller genre that I've ever read. I hope the writer has many more such creations in him. I'll be there to read them all.

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, July 2006

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