Julie Rowe has written another adrenalin-filled, action-packed story filled with brainwashed terrorists, brave men and women who put their lives on the line for their country, a brave but damaged soldier and a brilliant and sassy scientist.
I cannot even begin to express my excitement at getting my grubby hands on Viable Threat after hanging out for another book since finishing the last book in Ms Rowe's Biological Response Team series. When it comes to heart-pounding suspense, no one does it quite like Ms Rowe.
I remember liking River from the previous series and wanting a story for him. Well, actually, I wanted a story for all of Ms Rowe's characters because I cannot get enough of her writing, but I digress ... I love River. He is smart, talented and accomplished. He's Special Forces, so he's a man with many skills and a force to be reckoned with. He also comes with demons of his own, flashbacks from dangerous operations in the past and perhaps a touch of PTSD.
"River didn’t sound surprised or even concerned. Like this kind of tactic was to be expected. How many times had he faced this scenario in order for him to recognize it with no dismay? How burned out, how tired, how emotionally battered did a man have to get to live in that kind of hell inside his head? Her whole body ached at the thought, at the realization."
All of that makes him the man he is, one who is dedicated, focused and not allowing his shortcomings get in the way of getting the job done. He's also got a wicked sense of humor. Perhaps it's the humor that keeps him sane in the face of all the dangerous situations he's in and the tragedies he's experienced.
“Any idiot can go through life without making enemies.” River said cheerfully. “Congratulations. It takes character and intelligence to make people want to kill you.”
And Ava is the perfect counterpoint to him. Also dedicated, but brilliant, feisty and sassy. She's tough and she's brave, and even when things get rough, difficult and dangerous, she soldiers on. She would give any soldier a run for their money with her endurance and perseverance.
“I’m not always tough, though.” She paused, then continued. “I’ve had my share of breakdowns where I cried until I looked like someone had beaten me.” “Did you leave? Stop whatever you were doing?” “No.” She sounded insulted. “I blew my nose and went back to work.” “Exactly. That’s what a tough person does. Accepts the shitty shit, vents, then finishes the job.”
While Ms Rowe brings us characters to love and a suspenseful story to entertain, she also drives home some truths and ugliness about terrorism, whether international or domestic with the bio-terriorism outbreak she uses as the crux of the story. It illustrates the dangers faced by the soldiers and law enforcement agents who fight the fight daily, much to the ignorance of the everyday person, but also the vulnerability of the young and impressionable, and the people who would exploit them. There are always people with hidden agendas, selfish ulterior motives, and a desire to hurt and destroy we are unaware of. Everyday citizens who get injured and become collateral damage. Beyond the entertainment in this story is the lesson that there are dangers all around us and there are people fighting a war which we do not necessarily see. The media is not always right, nor do they report everything. I'm not condoning becoming a vigilante or taking the enforcement out of the hands of rightful people, only saying that we need to be aware of what's going on around us rather than hide our heads in the sand.
River is right when he says:
“Wars aren’t won with might,” he said, leaning forward and lowering his voice. “They’re won with intelligence, perseverance, and conviction.”
And saying all that, Ms Rowe is not afraid to get dirty with the effects of war and the devastation that ensues as a result.
"The bastards had blown up a college kid and coffee shop, a mall, the main gate at a military base, a dorm, and city hall. He wouldn’t be surprised to find anywhere they might have worked or hidden stuff to also have IEDs."
I loved this story. And I know I will love this series. I can't wait for Smoke's story which will be next as he has always been one of my favorite characters.
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