Reviews for Plaguemaker

Booklist Reviews 2006 January #1
Terrorists hatch a plot to introduce quantities of Asian fleas into New York City. The fleas infect rats with bubonic plague. The requisite FBI agent, a tough-talking loner named Nathan Baldwin, gets wind of the plot, then finds an ally in a Christian Chinese named Li Ming, who leads Nathan toward Syrian culprits and a Japanese mastermind not unlike Dr. No. And, in fact, Downs brings to mind Ian Fleming's humor, if not also his sadism, resulting in a familiar but competent thriller. ((Reviewed January 1 & 15, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2005 October #2
Top-drawer thriller about mortal grudges-and fatal fleas.Oriental rat fleas are known carriers of bubonic plague. This is the chilling tidbit tossed at FBI Special Agent Nathan Donovan by a forensic entomologist, hovering over an infestation of them. Fortunately, the fleas are all dead, as is the body they swirled around. Donovan, who heads the Joint Terrorism Task force, has been called to the scene not because of the homicide but because of its scary subtext: What if someone could get close enough to a major U.S. city to unleash on it a volatile swarm of killer fleas? Enter Sato Matsushita, a brilliant Japanese scientist whose grudge against the U.S. has smoldered for 60 years. Now enter Shee Dong Li, a brilliant Chinese scientist, who for 60 years has nursed a grudge against Sato. Both octogenarians have their reasons, both are more intent on vengeance than they are on living. Li contacts Donovan, convinces him that Sato is fully capable of mass murder and puts himself forward as the FBI's best chance in a Sato-hunt. Donovan has misgivings, but Li is, as always, persuasive. Suddenly, time becomes the critical factor: A huge Fourth of July celebration has been planned for New York Harbor, and the threat of a plague looms large. In its way stands only a minuscule blockade composed of Li, Donovan and Macy Monroe, Donovan's ex-wife, nurturer of her own long-standing grudge.Downs (Chop Shop, 2004, etc.) knows his bugs and his techno stuff, but what makes this work so well is the appeal of the characters, particularly that witty old Chinese scientist. Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 October #4

After strong debut and sophomore novels (Shoofly Pie ; Chop Shop ), Downs hits his stride in this delightful faith-based thriller. FBI Special Agent Nathan Donovan acts fearlessly, but he's haunted by an event in his past that drives his reckless behavior. A puzzling murder case in which thousands of fleas are released in a room leads to a cameo appearance by forensic entomologist Dr. Nick Polchak, the Bug Man from Downs's earlier novels. The fleas are the ideal vehicle for bubonic plague, and New York is the perfect target. Things get dicey when a Chinese octogenarian known as Li has information that could lead to solving the case--if Li doesn't seek his own revenge first. More complications arise when Donovan's ex-wife gets involved, and we discover the roots of Donovan's anger and fear. As the story unfolds, Downs evenhandedly dispenses humor, interesting technical details and the trademark "ick" factor that characterizes his previous books. He throws in enough surprises and unusual events to keep the story fresh, and he's learned how to hold a novel together through the closing pages. The real plagues, Downs suggests, are fear, hatred and a thirst for revenge, and he manages to convey the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation without too much sermonizing. This is Downs's best book to date. (Jan. 10)

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