A very grim but often compelling thriller.




Gullion’s debut thriller offers an account of a pandemic in a small Texas town, and how it affects the medical specialists and citizens there.

All’s well in Dalton, Texas, a town with a population of 115,000. The most exciting calls Dr. Eliza Gordon, chief epidemiologist of the City of Dalton Public Health Department, usually gets are food-poisoning cases. That changes, however, when an Indonesian doctor, Sitala, comes to town to give a lecture, and he suddenly comes down with a severe case of the flu. Doctors quickly realize that he has H7N1, a disease that’s killing thousands of people in his home country. Unfortunately, despite their efforts, they’re unable to save him. Soon after, many more people in Dalton come down with the disease, starting with those who were directly exposed to Dr. Sitala, and it soon spreads to many others. It doesn’t take long before Dalton is experiencing a full-on pandemic, and those who remain unaffected must figure out how to treat the disease and contain its spread. The novel provides an intriguing look at how a small, unequipped town might actually handle a serious health crisis, portraying the situation from multiple perspectives. Gullion presents many different characters who play roles in handling the disease, including the aforementioned Dr. Gordon; Geoffrey Robins, a disease investigator; Benjamin Cromwell, an infectious-disease expert at the town’s main hospital; Cassandra, a religious healer; and many, many more. The book is part of the Social Fictions Series, a collection of full-length novels that are “informed by social research” but written in a literary style, so it’s filled with interesting epidemiological facts and lots of medical information. However, some of the prose may be too technical for the lay reader (“No growth as of yet on the blood and CSF cultures. CSF was clear. He’s leucopenic”). Also, despite the suspenseful plot, the book offers little emotional payoff, instead providing a morose, foreboding look at what might happen during a real emergency. While its predictions might be accurate, readers will likely find it disconcerting and chilling.

A very grim but often compelling thriller.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-9462095892

Page Count: 162

Publisher: Sense Publishers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2014

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.


Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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