Z: A David Riley Novel

Bob Mayer, Author Lyford Books $21.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-89141-510-7
One of the richest men in the world devotes himself to creating a vicious new virus in this sixth Dave Riley novel (Eternity Base, etc.) by Special Forces veteran Mayer. The virus, an ebola-like killer that has been nicknamed Z, is cutting down the population of Angola, and Riley is right in the line of fire thanks to his current job protecting pretty female reporter Conner Young, who is accompanying U.S. troops sent to Angola as part of Operation Restore Life. Conner and Young are exposed to Z. Told they have less than a week to live, they let out all the stops in the hunt for a cure or a vaccine. They soon discover that Z is tied to a team of mercenaries who have been sent into Angola to recover part of a downed satellite that crashed mysteriously. The action is crisp, the knowledge of Army procedures and behavior is expert and the heroics are of the stiff-upper-lip variety. Unfortunately, the motivation of the evil genius behind all the sickness and death is simply unbelievableDa surrealistic James Bond villain walking into the middle of a hard-edged military thriller. A rushed and frantic climax doesn't do service to the narrative's tense buildup, either. Even so, Mayer does a great job of establishing a sense of realityDand real dangerDby mixing current fears about killer diseases with a clear-eyed view of what the Army calls OOTW (operations other than war). It's too bad that he lets his over-the-top villain pop the balloon. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/02/1996
Release date: 12/01/1996
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 228 pages - 978-1-62125-050-0
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