The last third of the alphabet is proving a little tough but I did manage to find a book in my records for my contribution to Kerrie’s Crime Fiction Alphabet this week.
Quantico by Greg Bear is thriller set in the near future in a period in which another major terrorist attack on US soil has occurred and global terrorism has escalated. It follows the stories of two FBI agents: William Griffin who is the son of an FBI legend struggling to live up to the expectations everyone has of him and Fouad Al-Husam who struggles to overcome the prejudices people have of a Muslim joining the FBI. The two form an odd team, headed by a veteran female agent Rebecca Rose, when they must track down someone in the Middle East who is claiming to have manufactured anthrax which can target certain genetic groups.
Greg Bear is far better known as a science fiction writer which makes the science-heavy plot of this book more understandable. I don’t know if the futuristic science is even vaguely plausible but Bear’s done a decent job of making it seem so with his bio-terrorism premise here. I suspect he was aiming for a Michael Crichton-style ‘what if…’ yarn and while he didn’t quite reach that level of page-turning suspense the book does tell a good story and the last half spills out at a cracking pace. Interestingly the procedural elements of the story are handled far better than one might expect from a cross-over novel.
At times Quantico approache some fairly complex issues with sensitivity and maturity and at other times it’s ridiculously simplistic. For example the prejudices experienced by Al-Husam are tackled in a thought provoking way but then the book frustratingly accepts the premise that the only way the world will ever be safe is if America continues its ‘world policeman’ role in battling the ‘war on terror’. I wouldn’t mind if the book was apolitical all the way through (entertainment for its own sake is fine with me) but this kind of selective introspection is a bit annoying.
If you like thrillers that make you think a little, and leave you a little scared at the end, you could do a lot worse than 2007’s Quantico from Greg Bear.