by Sherrida Woodley

Gray Dog Press, $16.95, 282 pages

The human race is being threatened by avian flu, which has already killed much of the bird population. At the center of the crisis is ornithologist Robert Russo, who is already dead in a plane crash at the beginning of the novel. His widow, Josephine leaves her home and drives to the Olympic Rain Forest to find out what happened to Russo and the meaning of a particular bird he has protected. In a different story line, Martin Pritchard has a sick daughter whose delicate immune system is threatened by the flu. Martin also peddles an anti-virus to various developing countries. Another character is Gary Sterns, a logger in Washington, who helps Josephine in her quest. All of these characters’ stories play out on a backdrop of a disintegrating nation.

The writing is polished and the premise interesting. Many of the characters, such as Pritchard, are strong. However, this story lags at times because the wrong portions are dramatized—for example, long conversations are shown between Pritchard and his infirmed daughter while the burning of Los Angeles is just glossed over. However, the story is good, and with more work on what to ‘show’ and what to ‘tell’, it would be even better yet. Overall, this is an on the edge of your seat thriller that will keep readers riveted with a not too far-reaching and still healthy paranoia of birds!

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