Who Fears Death
DAW, Jun 1 2010, $24.95
The world may have been shattered by a nuclear holocaust, but mankind continues to fight one another; just on a smaller scale. In post-nuclear Sahara, genocide is the norm as the followers of the Great Book ethnically cleanse the region. Thus the Nuru believing God is on their side, hunt and eradicate the Okeke. In one village, the lone survivor is raped by the exterminators. She escapes into the desert eventually giving birth to a girl who the mom knows is unique. Using an ancient forgotten African language she names her offspring (from the brutal sexual assault) Onyesonwu, "Who Fears Death".
As a shaman raises Onyesonwu, the genocide continues unabated. However, new hope arises amidst the embattled Okeke that a savior has come. Onyesonwu has been learning about her magical power to end the murderous cleansing. However, she must study evil to understand evil before she can sacrifice herself in death so that the Okeke can live.
Using a futuristic fantasy base, Nnedi Okorafor provides a great but grim realistic drama that focuses on genuine problems in Africa today. Through the escapades of the heroine, the story line disturbingly examines ethnic and religious cleansing, racism, sexism, female genital mutilation and sex slavery as humanity is inhumane to each other. Who Fears Death is superb as Ms. Okorafor provides a powerful post apocalyptic thriller with strong ramifications in today’s on the Eve of Destruction world. Harriet Klausner
Putnam, Jun 15 2010, $26.95
Yale Professor Edward Kender has colon cancer in which the drug Culovort he receives as part of his treatment seems to be working when he is informed production by German firm Schiffer Hartwin is nonexistent. Stunned he assumes the pharmaceutical industry is playing death squad to drum up profits. He hires private investigator Erin Pulaski to make an inquiry into the firm. She breaks in and enters the head office of the American subsidiary in Stone Bridge, Connecticut in order to hack into the files of the local CEO Caskie Royal. She finds info on plans to stop the Cartwright Labs in Bartonville, Missouri from manufacturing the drug; as well as stopping it in Spain in favor of a French firm Labortoires Anconder’s drug Eloxium. However, Royal and production manager Carla Alvarez arrive and discuss what they are doing with the firm and then have sex..
The next day she learns that the firm’s troubleshooter was murdered near where she downloaded computer data that made no sense to her. Meanwhile, the FBI sends married couple Agents Sherlock and Savich to Stone Bridge to assist FBI agent Bowie Richards with the homicide. They begin to find troubles with the pharmaceutical company while Pulaski wonders what to do with her illegal download; Pulaski becomes their prime suspect. Savich also investigates the poisoning of a lobbyist whose real target may have been aimed at a US Senator.
This is a great timely entry in the long running S&S FBI police procedural series due to the pharmaceutical connection as much as the freshness brought forth by Richards and more so by Erin who knows her B&E was stupid but felt strongly that they needed to expose true death squad bottom lines. Fast-paced from the onset, the second case takes somewhat of a back seat though it is well written and quite exciting too. Fans of the series will relish this strong entry while newcomers will find Whiplash a winner too. Harriet Klausner
Delacorte, Jun 22 2010, $26.00
Four years ago, in Heartsdale, Grant County’s popular police chief Tolliver was murdered; the case remains unsolved. His widow Dr. Sara Linton was the county coroner and ran a children’s clinic, but left after her spouse died. She is back in town visiting her family on Thanksgiving yet is still thirsting for her husband’s homicide to be resolved although she is positive that Officer Lena Adams is at the center of her husband’s homicide.
At the same time, Special Agent Will Trent is also in Grant County to investigate a questionable death of a prisoner. Not surprising, he finds the local police officers circling the wagons protecting each other form the intruder. Will concludes that Police Officer Lena Adams is concealing something, but is not sure what or why. As he struggles with the uncooperative cops, he is taken aback when Dr. Linton asks him to look into her husband’s murder, a cold case. Trent is being pulled by two women in opposite directions of the Blue Line that keeps him outside in spite of being law enforcement too.
This is an intriguing Grant County thriller (see Faithless, Undone and Blindsided) as Will instead of Sara holds the story line together with two females yanking him in opposite directions. The insightful look at the learning disorder agraphia augments the taut tale as it showcases how an individual learns to conceal a problem with some form of over compensation. In a starring role, Will brings freshness to the plot as he investigates two deaths that cast the Grants County Police Office in a shroud of darkness. Harriet Klausner