Red Tide

Author: G. M. Ford
Genre: Thriller
Reviewed by: Kevin Tipple

12210402Frank Corso isn't comfortable out in public attending social events but that is exactly what he is doing as this recent release opens. He is attending a showing and sale of his friend Meg Dougherty's photographic work at the Cecil Taylor Gallery in Seattle. Though surrounded by people, Frank Corso stands out and she knows he isn't happy.

"Dougherty heaved another sigh. 'I shouldn't have badgered him into coming,' she said. "He hates this kind of thing." (Page 10)

The showing is going well and should be a success and vindication of a lifetime of work until it is interrupted by the police who order a mandatory evacuation for unspecified reasons. They won't say why and as Frank and Meg walk the area towards a fleet of busses waiting to take evacuees away, it becomes clear that something very bad has happened. Frank, never known for being able to leave things alone, can't this time and sends an annoyed Meg on her way home in a cab, before going literally underground in downtown Seattle to find out what is going on. Before long, he finds himself undercover in a hazmat suit looking at a scene of carnage and death in the wake of the release of an airborne weapon of mass destruction. Terrorists have struck again, this time in Seattle, and this attack is the first of several planned on the city as a group of experts meet for an international symposium on chemical and biological weapons.

Meanwhile, across town, Meg goes to her home angry about the show, Frank, and life in general, only to find the man who disfigured her years ago loitering by the door of her home/studio. He leaves and she urges the cabby to follow his car because with the police tied up with whatever the emergency is, as well as how they treated her in the past, she knows she won't get any help. She has dreamed of this day for years and now with him in her sights, she isn't about to back down for a second.

G. M. Ford quickly weaves both compelling storylines together in this gripping read. As Frank and Meg both pursue the terrorists across the city with the aid of local law enforcement, the rift that has been growing between them over the last couple of novels in this series begins to widen. Frank is as reclusive as ever, despite being thrust into the limelight, and Meg is growing weary of her life and Frank's hard-nosed ways. But beyond all that, the author creates a gripping tale along with some very relevant social commentary about the specter of terrorism and our ability to defend the country and ourselves. Not only is this novel worth reading because it is a well written and suspenseful mystery, Red Tide is worth reading for his very astute political observations about freedom in America and the reality of our modern world.


December 21, 2004 in Thriller | Permalink | Comments (0)


Author: Daniel J. Ronco
Genre: Thriller
Reviewed by Kevin R. Tipple

579The problem with technology is that when everything is turned over to computers, the computers can and do go haywire. Not just disrupting lives with minor inconveniences, but the computers can actually kill. That is the backdrop theme to this soon to be released adventure/disaster style read from author Daniel J. Ronco.

The computer system in this case is the Atlas Operating System, which is almost universally used in the very near future. Created by Ray Brown and his team from Vantage Point Software, the product has beaten all competitors. So much so, the company was a target of an anti-trust trial. A trial they ultimately lost and as a result the company was broken up into theoretically separate units. But despite the breakup, the company is still under her control of beautiful CEO Dianne Morgan, who has plans. Dianne is charming, sexually confident and aggressive, ruthless and relentless in her obsession to destroy the competition, the government, and anyone else who stupidly stands in her way.

The lovely Dianne has two motives. Not only does she want her company to succeed, but she also wants her shadowy group within and without her company, known as "The Domain", to succeed in their plans to take over the world. To do so, they will unleash a virus lurking deep within the operating system. The virus will cause a systematic shutdown of everything everywhere until her goals are met.

The virus's name is "Peacemaker" in reference to her vision of the future under her control. But Ray Brown has discovered a form of the virus and has seen in it violent action. He intends to stop it. Initially not realizing that his lover CEO Dianne Morgan is behind it all, he sets out to destroy "Peacemaker" and can only watch as the evolving and possibly self aware virus not only defeats his every attempt, but others are retaliated against for his actions. And while Dianne plots to take over the world, she has yet to understand that others within her group plot to oust her and use "Peacemaker" for their own nefarious purposes.

With at least three major storylines, this book shifts constantly in third person between them in this adventure/disaster style novel. As such, character development is rather limited and somewhat stereotypical of the genre. For example, Ray Brown is portrayed as a brilliant alcoholic constantly at war with his inner demon need for a stiff drink while the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Then there is the achingly beautiful Dianne Morgan who reminds one of a figure from Greek tragedy. Not only will she sleep with any man necessary to get her way, while at the pinnacle of success, she throws it all away on a quest for yet more power. And of course, what would any adventure/disaster read be without the pov of various minor characters doomed by the actions of the "Peacemaker" virus. Some will live, some will die, and some of those deaths will be horrible as chaos ensues and society collapses.

Having said all that, for what it is in the genre, this is a pretty good book. Unlike many such novels, the focus isn't so much on the fate of the characters, but more a commentary on society, current and future, as a whole. With allusions to recent computer trials in the news, at least in the mind of this reviewer, this novel serves more as a dire warning of a future we may unwittingly be creating each day as we turn more and more control of our lives over to computer systems. While the read is enjoyable and fast, the issues this novel raises deserve serious consideration before the next power blackout or other disaster-man made or otherwise.


July 11, 2004 in Thriller | Permalink | Comments (0)