Ken Follett, Author , read by Barbara Rosenblat. Penguin Audio $29.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-14-305707-9

In Follett's latest Le Mans-paced thriller, doses of the possible antidote to a deadly virus are stolen from a small pharmaceutical lab in Scotland, much to the dismay of the lab's security chief, Toni Gallo. Not only is the actual virus capable of decimating the British Isles, but the theft is certain to interfere with Toni's budding romance with the drug company's widowed founder, Stanley Oxenford. It is to Follett's credit that he is able to combine biological terrorism, romance, sadism, Alzheimer's disease and family dysfunction into an effective antidote to boredom. But these disparate elements, not to mention the idea of trapping heroes and villains with the virus in a country home cut off from the rest of humanity by a snowstorm, come close to parody. Reader Rosenblat's breathless British-accented narration crosses that line at times, particularly when she reads passages in which Follett tries, not always convincingly, to provide reasons for why his good guys can't summon help with their cell phones. On the other hand, she is extremely effective in delivering the novel's dialogue. Her Scottish brogues are especially impressive, as is the cruel Cockney accent she employs to add menace to the book's most unique character, a homicidal thug named Daisy who possesses a broken nose, a ring-pierced lip and beautiful hands. Simultaneous release with the Dutton hardcover (Forecasts, Nov. 15, 2004). (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 01/03/2005
Release date: 12/01/2004
Genre: Audio
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