White Sleeper, written by David R. Fett, Stephen Langford, is a lightening-fast-paced story about two characters trying to stop a homegrown terrorist from unleashing a deadly virus on American citizens. Doctor Dave Richards was once a fast-rising star, solving cases that no one else could figure out. Known for finding the things that hide in plain site, his rise to the top came at a price- he developed a serious drinking problem and found himself catapulted to the bottom of the food chain and banished to the basement. Not even his best friend, Dr. Root, can save him. Agent Paula Mushari is an FBI agent who dreams of working counter-terrorism, but wonders if her ethnicity is holding her back in a country where all those of Muslim backgrounds are viewed with suspicion. Together, they unravel a plot to unleash a rare virus on unsuspecting American citizens, perpetuated by a white supremacist bent on revenge since the government killed his parents during an FBI raid.
The story moves extremely fast, a little too fast at times. At only 272 pages (in the ARC), I feel that the authors had plenty of time to slow down just a little bit and flesh out a few sections. The book starts out with the rain on Ben Curran’s parent’s house, jumps forward to the highlight of Richards’ career, then leaps forward to almost present day, then one more time a few months later to actual “present day.” This is a purely action-driven story, character development is limited to the two main players, and even then we only see glimpses of who they are and how they got to this particular point in their lives. I personally prefer a little heavier hand on the character back-stories, but I’ll let it slide. Those who are looking for a straight-forward action story about deadly viruses (one of my favorite subjects) won’t be disappointed.
PROS- First, I really like that, aside from the brief run-in with the plague, the viruses in the book aren’t your typical fare. In my opinion, botulism and rabies (I wont tell you which of the three is the big bad of the book, I don’t want to ruin anything) don’t get nearly enough play these days. Second, Agent Mushari is a delight. She could be bitter and grumpy about the fact that she’s stuck in the middle of nowhere because the upper echelon of the government is too scared to allow an Arab woman any sort of real power- but she’s not. She’s also not one of those fictional FBI types that is always shoving her title or jurisdiction in other people’s faces. She’s kind, considerate and helpful. Richards is also a likable character who cares more about saving lives than he does about saving his career. They make a good team.
CONS- While I found the pace a little fast, I’m not counting that as a con because many people enjoy that. My only real complaint is that occasionally the writing read a little too much like a screenplay. Stephen Langford is a screenwriter, so that may account this issue. A few scenes, like in the room at the hotel, seemed to be set up as though it was written in a way that would translate better to television than into the mind of the fiction reader. It’s not blatantly obvious and doesn’t detract from the overall story, but it did pull me out at moments. Again, a lot of this has to do with personal preferences, I like to a have enough information to form a full picture of the setting in my mind.
OVERALL- I enjoyed the story very much, although I do wish it was just a little longer and a little more fleshed out in some spots.
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