Devilishly deadly thriller
We relax, unwind and have fun on summer vacation. Here in Maine we have islands close to the coast that are tailor-made for enjoying the lazy days of summer — whether you are lucky enough to own a home there or just enjoying it for the day. So Joe Souza setting his devilishly deadly thriller, The Liger Plague, on a fictional Maine island is a devastating punch in the gut. The poor folks on Cooke’s Island just want to have fun and Souza makes their time in the sun a nightmare.
The lead character is Dr. Taggert Winters, a colonel in the U.S. Army and a microbial expert. A man like Winters makes enemies. As Churchill said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something in your life.” And Winters, who has devoted his career to preventing heinous pathogens from being used against the American people, is opposed by enemies who are as clever and ruthless as he is dedicated. They transform Winters’ summer idyll on Cooke’s Island into a hellish struggle to save his wife and daughter and ultimately just to survive biological meltdown.
The liger of the title refers to a crossbred animal – a half lion, half tiger. Souza makes this enigmatic beast the perfect symbol for the double whammy pathogen the bad guys release on Cooke’s Island. It’s a freak, an unnatural commingling of deadly talents that no one is ready for, least of all Winters.
Aiding Winters in his struggle is a savvy young man named Fez, who grew up on the island and knows both its people and byways. Fez provides just the right local knowledge at key times. And the young man and Winters develop a touching father/son relationship. Winters runs across other folks in the course of the story. Some are trustworthy and some are not — but neither Winters, nor the reader, can take things at face value.
Like its namesake, The Liger Plague is a clever combination. It’s a twisty thriller story with worldwide implications and a bloody survival epic. To Souza’s great credit, it isn’t clear that Winters and his family will succeed in the daunting task his enemies have set him by releasing the liger plague on the unsuspecting vacationers of Cooke’s Island. Here are two results you might have after reading the beastly events detailed in The Liger Plague: 1) you’ll be entertained and look forward to the next installment in Souza’s Liger series and 2) you may want to spend the rest of your vacations on the mainland.