Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Book Review: Plague by H.W. 'Buzz' Bernard

Review copy from Netgalley courtesy of the publisher.
by H.W. 'Buzz' Bernard
Bell Bridge Books
4 Stars


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 the South's most iconic city: Atlanta, where the symbols of American "decadence" range from 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. CDC Virologist Dr. Dwight Butler begins a frantic effort to track down the source before it's too late.

For new BioDawn CEO Richard Wainwright, it quickly becomes clear that the "accidental" plane crash that killed the pharmaceutical company's entire executive hierarchy may have some connection to the evolving threat. Suddenly Richard is being stalked by a hit woman. He and Butler join forces to find the lone terrorist at the center of a plan that could unleash a modern Black Plague on the western world.

H.W. "Buzz" Bernard is an Air Force veteran and retired Weather Channel meteorologist. His 2010 hurricane thriller, Eyewall, became a number one bestseller in ebook. Visit him at


What would you do if you were infected by a disease that had no cure, no vaccine, no preventative at all? And what would happen if that disease was used in bio-terrorism and released in a crowded city?

I have never read anything by H. W. "Buzz" Bernard before, and in fact hadn't heard of him until I got a copy of Plague to review. It's a story that grabs you from the first page and never lets go until the last page is turned. I know it's a cliché to say it is a page-turner, but it really is. I could hardly put it down wondering what was going to happen next.

I think it helped that our main character, Richard Wainwrigtht, interim CEO at BioDawn, was a sympathetic character, who'd just recently lost his wife and as he's dealing with his grief, he's also wondering what the heck is going on at his new company. Why is one building forbidden to him? And why is he being threatened by a German hit woman to stop asking questions and leave well alone?

Of course, it wouldn't be much of a story if Richard had given in so easily, he's determined to find out the truth, despite being framed for murder and on the run from the police and FBI. I've never been to Atlanta, but the author sets the tone well that you can almost feel the heat and humidity as you read. The author has a good turn of phrase and it was a fast, tightly-plotted book.

The book was well-written, with well-drawn characters. My one gripe would be that we as readers know quite early on what is planned with the terrorist attack and who is planning it. I would have preferred that to remain more of a mystery throughout the book so you wonder what is going on along with the FBI and CDC investigators rather than knowing things before them. The book is terrifying in a sense, because while this thriller is fiction, what transpires in it could easily happen in real life.

The parts on the symptoms of people suffering from the Ebola virus were a bit gruesome for me, so this is not a book for the faint of heart, but the author seems to have done his medical research as far as I could tell. And as just after I was reading about the Zaire strain of Ebola, it came up on a quiz programme as to what country it was named after. My husband wanted to know how I knew that. "It was in a book I'm reviewing." So, it's not only entertaining, but informative too.

An interesting read and I'll certainly be looking out for more of this author's work in future.

Reviewed by Annette Gisby

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