The latest in Lyons’ (Waters of Oblivion, 2014, etc.) Jock Boucher thriller series finds the retired judge facing off against his nemesis, who plans to unleash plague-infested mosquitoes in the United States.
After helping Ray Dumont and inheriting the man’s corporate empire, former Federal District Judge Jock is currently the richest man in Louisiana. His new status practically requires him to take over the duties of a just deceased affluent community member: hosting charity functions and joining the Jazz and Heritage Festival Board. But he also agrees to lend scientist Dr. Constance Morris his unused research lab to genetically modify disease-carrying mosquitoes for exterminating pathogens. Contrarily, arms dealer Noble Gunn wants to use mosquitoes as a weapon, with his accomplice, Serge Breshensky, generating a deadly virus for the insects to transmit. Gunn, looking to sell his bioweapon to the Russians for a cool billion, intends to demonstrate his delivery system by releasing his mosquitoes in New Orleans. This includes mosquito drones for more specific attacks, allowing him revenge against mortal enemy Jock— not the first time Gunn’s tried killing him. While Jock has his hands full with irate company employees, some plotting to do him harm, Gunn eyes the upcoming jazz festival for the insect-laden viral strike. The novel has a slow but gripping start, detailing Gunn’s meticulous scheme, even down to the science. Characters and subplots gradually appear, quickening the pace but disappointingly taking focus away from the fascinating Gunn, who’s undergone plastic surgery after an injury. Regardless, subplots are diverting: a biblical fundamentalist takes steps to thwart what he believes is sacrilegious lab work, and executives want Jock gone when he apparently threatens their lifestyles by selling the company plane. Lyons favors narrative over characters, but relationships do add suspense (both Jock and his love interest, CIA field officer Maggie Toussaint, are in potential danger) and villain sympathy (Gunn may be falling for Annika Ustinov, a virologist representing the Russian buyers).
A tightly packed bioweapon story provides momentum and plenty of obstacles for the recurring protagonist to overcome.