Monday, September 10, 2018
Book Review: 'Perimeter' by M.A. Rothman
Author M.A (Michael) Rothman is the first member of his family to be born in the United States. His Hungarian grandfather was a WW II refugee and his family fled the Nazi occupation. Michael is an engineer who focuses on computer technology – system software design – and his designs are embedded in all modern computers distributed be the major companies in the world. He has stated ‘Whether it is deeply embedded devices such as missile guidance systems or vehicle navigation systems or general-purpose PCs such as laptops or even gaming consoles, I’ve worked with just about all types of “computers” throughout my career’. As for his writing, he has published two books to date – PRIMORDIAL THREAT and now PERIMETER – both with themes of technology and international intrigue. .
The polished skill with which Michael relates his intriguing and immensely involving story showcases both his mastery of technology as well as his obvious travels and knowledge of global intrigue. But he steps further into the spotlight with his introduction of chief character Levi Yoder by not only making him a brilliant ‘fixer’ but one coping with personal trauma, well defined in his opening paragraphs – ‘“Mr. Yoder, I’m sorry to have to tell you this.” Dr. Cohen looked concerned, hesitant, but he spoke quickly, as if to get it over with. “You have stage-4 pancreatic cancer.” That was certainly not how Levi had expected his nine a.m. follow-up visit to go. A chill spread through his chest and sent a shiver down the middle of his back. The gray-haired doctor sat across the table from Levi and nudged a box of tissues in his direction. As if tissues could help anything. “How can I possibly have cancer?” Levi’s fingers dug tightly into the arms of the padded red leather chair as he leaned forward. “I’m only thirty, and I’ve lived a clean life. I don’t drink alcohol or do drugs. Are you sure?” He realized it sounded like denial. Dr. Cohen stood, walked around his large mahogany desk, and put a wrinkled hand on Levi’s shoulder. “Son, I’m genuinely sorry.” He sighed, his breath smelling of peppermint tea. “Unfortunately, the early stages of pancreatic cancer have almost no symptoms. I sent the biopsy samples to two different labs, and they both came back with the same results. The radiology scans we took last week also confirmed the level of metastasis. The cancer has spread into your lymphatic system.” Levi took a deep breath and let it out slowly. The tautness of his muscles dissipated as a feeling of resignation came over him. “Stage 4? What does that mean? How do we treat this? What’s the next step?” Pulling a chair closer, the doctor sat across from Levi, their knees practically touching. “Stage 4 simply means the cancer has spread to other organs. In your case, we’ve detected the cancer in your pancreas as well as your lymph nodes. As to treatment, Sloane-Kettering and a few other research hospitals conducted clinical trials in 2005 that dealt with this type of cancer. Nowadays there are experimental radiation treatments that we could try, coupled with multiple rounds of chemotherapy, but at this stage of your disease, I’m afraid the odds aren’t good.”
It is this quality of prose that carries his novel to success. The plot is well outlined in the synopsis – ‘Levi is a "fixer" in a fix. The CIA needs his help. The Russian mob wants him dead. With enemies closing in and nowhere to turn, he learns that the one person who may hold all the answers ... is his dead wife. Levi Yoder is a member of the Mafia and a fixer of people's problems. He takes on issues where the law is otherwise unable to help. Unfortunately, Levi can't fix the problem he's facing. Having been diagnosed with a terminal case of cancer, Levi readies himself for death, but what he didn't prepare himself for was waking up one morning and learning that he's in complete remission. PERIMETER is a story of a man thrust back into a life he'd assumed was over. When he finds that he and the rest of his family are targets of what the CIA claims are elements of the Russian mob, Levi reluctantly agrees to help in whatever way he can. As Levi immerses himself in the seedy underbelly of international organized crime and politics, he learns that he's being targeted for something his now-dead wife did. It's quickly evident that the people he knows can't be trusted and the problems he needs to fix may be beyond his substantial skills.’
At the end of the novel Michael offers some scientific factual information that heightens the readers interest not only in this novel but also in the series. Writing of this caliber, having created a mesmerizing lead character whose skills as a human being are staggering, suggests that this book could easily be adapted as a screenplay for a fine motion picture. This is a series – the Levi Yoder Thrillers - and seems to be bound to be a very popular success. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, September 18
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.
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.