cover image Germ


Robert Liparulo, . . WestBow, $22.99 (490pp) ISBN 978-0-7852-6178-0

In this doorstopper of a sophomore suspense novel, Liparulo (Comes a Horseman ) explores the grim possibilities of germ warfare with an interesting twist: this Ebola virus can seek and destroy specific individuals by matching their DNA. Ten thousand people are on the list for infection, and it's up to special agent Julia Matheson to stop the horrific drama that's about to unfold. As she tracks the source of the virus, she finds a touch of romance with physician Dr. Allen Parker, who, with Julia, is fleeing a seemingly invincible assassin. Multiple changes of perspective are challenging, and the reader may have to work hard to maintain the thread of the story. Although there are more than the requisite number of shootouts with the bad guys, hand-to-hand combat episodes, bloody injuries and chase scenes, this is less gruesome than Liparulo's debut. A tighter page count, however, would have enhanced the pacing, and faith readers will be surprised that there's not much of a nod toward them, except for the character of Stephen Parker, a congenial, larger-than-life pastor with a tragic past. Yet Liparulo's dialogue is smooth and competent, and he throws in just enough twists to keep the pages turning. Plenty of technical details, especially in gathering and communicating information, help differentiate this story from the run-of-the-mill thriller. (Nov.)