3 out of 4 stars
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It is 2021. The world is still reeling from its battle with COVID-19, but it is on the way to recovery. However, in Singapore, ten deaths are puzzling hospital personnel. The cause of the deaths is a disease that is eerily similar to COVID-19, but this one is much more lethal with mortality at 90%. The Singapore security service organizations become involved, and they soon seek the assistance of the MI6. Eventually, the investigations lead to a hideout where a sizable stash of vials containing a deadly pathogen is seized. The pathogen, created by the Althofen Club, is christened “The Messiah.” The Althofen Club is a group of billionaires from all over the world who plan to rule the planet after it is cleansed by The Messiah. They get to choose who will be given the vaccine to prevent contamination and who will be worthy of the cure. Will the world be able to stop them?
The Silent Message by Robert de Casares is definitely a thrilling read; everybody knows what havoc a deadly virus can bring. The premise of the book, greedy billionaires out to own the downsized planet, is a clear possibility. I read the author’s The Moonshadow Effect two years ago and found it fantastic. Thus, I had no second thoughts about grabbing this book.
The author did not disappoint. He took me on a breathless ride as I boarded the planes with Desmond Reeves, the main character, while he zigzagged across the globe. A top agent of the MI6, Desmond picked up the clues and followed them from Singapore to Spain, Russia, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, and France. The author described the hotels, landmarks, wines, and other peculiarities of the destinations that made the trips almost real. I learned some Russian, German, and Spanish along the way. The author also employed literature, movies, and music to make the experience more vibrant. I enjoyed excerpts from 1984, The Godfather, Black Sabbath’s hit song “Children of the Grave,” and Shakespeare’s plays.
The author knew his security organizations well, and I relished discovering the counterparts of the MI6 and MI5 in the different countries. I read about weapons, ammo, and modern eavesdropping equipment and truth drugs that would make privacy an endangered species. The author likewise inserted tidbits that improved my knowledge of world history, particularly recent political upheavals and realignments of alliances. The young proponents for combating climate change had a major role in this book, but I didn’t like the implications raised by the author. I’m not allowed to spoil the read, though, so the readers have to find out for themselves why.
The book necessarily features a lot of killings, so the squeamish ones need to brace themselves. As a thriller buff, I take the gore and the swearing attendant to it in stride. A love angle humanizes Desmond and offers some respite from the violence without derailing the main plot. On the lighter side, the reader will have fun with British slang words like “Peter” for “safe,” “boffin” for “expert,” and “recce” for “reconnaissance.”
I wish I could give this exciting piece a perfect rating, but the grammatical mishaps hold me back. They consist of misspellings, missing or extra words, and unwanted commas. In consideration of the errors, I give the book 3 out of 4 stars.
Those who enjoy medical thrillers, international spy novels, and intense action scenes will love this book. I only hope that the story will not happen in real life. The Spanish flu besieged the world a century ago. COVID-19 still stalks our streets. Let the next pandemic come after a hundred years, or better yet, never.
The Silent Message
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