By Sameer Ketkar
A chemistry teacher is found dead inside the wall of an Atlanta hotel. Because of the condition of the body, the CDC is called in. The team, headed by Tigh and Larkin Callahan start investigating the incident. Enter into the picture Homeland Security Agent Corban Banks. The trio with their CDC team discover a link with bio-terrorists. But how much more could explode when the both Callahans discover their mutual attraction for Banks?
Okay, good premise in that we have a mystery with some widespread danger. Then there’s the bisexual angle. Plus, the Callahan children are involved in their own little dramas. This one is a little off the wall, maybe more than a little.
Tigh Callahan: co-head of the CDC’s Crisis Response Team, three children, tall, brown hair, a bit pudgy, owns a dog, drives a Lexus hybrid SUV
Larkin Callahan: Tigh’s wife, co-head of the CDC CRT, blonde, short, pretty, wears glasses, drives a Porsche, came from wealth
Corban Banks: Homeland Security Agent in the Bioterror Task Force, salt and pepper hair, hazel eyes, tall, drives a Dodge Charger, former homicide investigator
Amanda Romanclef: actress, attractive
Eddie B.: Amanda’s agent, short, bald, Jewish
Cornelius ‘Neil’ Callahan: 14, the non-genius of the family, likes to write stories, loves football, attends a school for geniuses
A wide variety of of characters, none of whom, I think, is the protagonist. Tigh, Larkin, Corban, and somewhat Neil, all seem to get a good share of attention. Maybe not so much with Corban. A lot of minor characters all with nice descriptions and personalities.
My problem is with Tigh and Larkin. I just don’t ‘get’ them. They’re serious about their work but their, uh, proclivities are just so off the wall I truly don’t know what to make of them. I’m not against the whole bisexual angle and maybe this is just to give the story a bit of comedy relief but some of the serious overtones are missed. You have two parents and three kids, but Dad’s playing video games with Neil is the only closeness seen. Mother and father don’t seem to care about the other kids’ school work, the son’s gangster attitude or loud music or notice that the daughter is into drugs. And the last scene before the epilogue really blew my mind in their apathy about how their behavior could affect the children. I’m not a moral prude here, but let’s get a little real.
Neil’s brother, in his gangster, laid back mode has the best voice. Sometimes Tigh is a little juvenile. The students seem to have good voices. Short novel so the conversations don’t wander.
Prologue and some scenes done in first person from the Neil Callahan’s POV, the rest in third person (but as narrated by Neil with first person references). Profanity, some of it unnecessary. Incorrect tag lines in places. Several instances of incomplete sentences that refer to and sometimes complete the previous sentence. This is okay but at times it doesn’t work and is jarring. Sexual scenes but not overly graphic.
I mentioned the characters of Neil’s siblings-sister sells weed and brother is into music-and I don’t know how focusing on these moved the story along. I would have liked to have seen more concentration on the mystery. This is the first of a series, so maybe the children’s activities will lead to something. There was a lot of good science and medical knowledge. The technology was skimmed over.
Normally, I have a fair idea on my rankings about stories, but here I had to think awhile. I didn’t see too many mistakes other than those mentioned. I guess, in this instance I fall back to looking at the whole of the book with everything taken into account. This is what I usually do, but here I think it’s plays an especially major part in my decision. I’m going with my gut because I think the series has potential if the author can get by some of the potholes.