Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Book Review: 'Contagion' by Jeffrey Poston

New Mexico author Jeffrey Poston, with an electrical engineering degree in laser optics and military experience as an Air Force officer, comes to this suspenseful thriller CONTAGION: AMERICAN TERRORIST 2 with a solid background in publishing his highly acclaimed four Jason Peares Historical Westerns as well as his adventure thrillers, but having not read his work before, this reviewer comes to Jeffrey's work in this novel - and it is one of the most poignantly important novels about life as we are experiencing it in the US (an the world) yet encountered. This man writes with the passion of a crusader but never steps away from allowing his story speak on its own.

In an interview about the release of this novel, a story about police shootings and racism and the constant threat of the terrorist mode, Jeffrey offers some pungent insights that bear sharing here: ‘The debut of AMERICAN TERRORIST came at the height of the civil strife between police and citizens. Was that a coincidence or a message? `It was coincidental only in that media coverage of the civil conflict ramped up significantly in 2014. We have to keep in mind police shootings have been occurring for many years, and it's a complicated social problem, especially with the media focusing primarily on white-black shootings. My concept for American Terrorist came from a real event - my encounter with police in 2007 - except, of course, I didn't get shot. So I ask the question, what would happen if a law-abiding citizen went berserk or insane after an encounter with police or federal agents? Black History month isn't only about distant history. Sometimes, it can be about just-last-year history. I wrote American Terrorist before the events in Ferguson, Missouri, and the related unrest that sparked a vigorous debate about law enforcement's relationship with African-Americans and police use-of-force doctrine nationwide. I wrote the novel because ten years ago I was jacked up by police, and for ten years I've been dealing with the trauma of that experience. So I decided to write a novel about the event because writing is my way of dealing with my own trauma. Of course, I didn't get shot or tortured or even beat up. But loss of dignity hurts for a very long time. That is the essence that elevates such violence from an individual assault to a collective racial issue. Of course, a good novel needs plenty of action, suspense, and plot twists. So what if an innocent Black man was assaulted by federal cops who take everything from him? What if he goes berserk and decides to do to them what that they did to him? But what if he is the only person in the world who can find a missing child who will surely die if he doesn't find a way to work with the same police who destroyed his life? This is a work of fiction, but the perceived violence of police against non-white citizens is a complicated topic. What I've tried to capture in this story are the thoughts and feelings and fears of a wanted man trying to deal with the loss of his family, his dignity, and his very reason for living.'

There could be no better view of the power of this novel than just stated. The author's synopsis distills the story well: ` In this sequel to American Terrorist: Where is the Girl? the people's anti-hero, Carl Johnson, learns the girl is only a pawn in a madman's bid to reshape global politics. To save her, Carl must find and hold for ransom the ultimate weapon: a deadly contagion that will decimate our planet's entire population. Witness this epic battle between the unknown power wielding the full might of the US government and the entire international intelligence community, and Carl's small team of mercenaries, which is being whittled down to nothing. The clock is ticking and Carl only has four days to determine the identity of his Adversary, save the girl...again, save Madame President, and prevent the release of the most deadly contagion ever engineered.

This tension, matched with parody and sharp-witted humor, spills off every page of this exceptional novel. It is a must read for all citizens querying the concept of terrorist acts and the universality of evil and governmental response. Very Highly Recommended! Grady Harp, February 18

This book is free to borrow from Kindle Unlimited

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.