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The Serpents Kiss

by Mark Terry

Derek Stillwater is a maverick type agent for the Department of Homeland Security. His area of expertise is bioterrorism, and when a sarin gas attack leaves fifty-two people dead at a Detroit restaurant, Stillwater rushes to the scene.

Matt Gray, the FBI boss in charge of the investigation, regards Stillwater 's presence as a turf violation and assigns agent Jill Church to “keep him in the dark.”

Two things become apparent right away. First of all, Derek Stillwater is far more competent and motivated than the FBI and secondly, the murderer will be killing again – and soon.

A second mass killing takes place a few hours later at a college lecture and leaves tantalizing clues, designed to send the investigators after a false scent. The targets are becoming progressively larger and the diabolical killer is moving forward, like a freight train on steroids, building toward his final act, where he plans to kill over twenty thousand rock concert attendees. The whole scenario takes place in just twelve horrifying hours.

When FBI agent Jill Church sees what is going on, she tries to help Stillwater and winds up being suspended by her boss Matt Gray. Jill recognizes that Gray is more concerned about playing politics than trying to figure out the deranged murderer's next move, so instead of quitting the case, she defies her superior and teams up with agent Stillwater and charges ahead, attempting to rival the speed of the killer.

Author Mark Terry has done and absolutely masterful job of matching the overall pace of the story to the sense of urgency that the characters feel. His short chapters and terse dialog complete the picture and pull the reader into the pursuit. This story really moves.

My tastes run toward action jammed stories and this one certainly qualifies. Over the years, I've read lots of thrillers written by well known authors, but can't remember reading a more electrifying book.

Ten years ago, I may have had a credibility problem with the premise of this novel, but the wave of terrorism currently sweeping the globe makes the concept all too real.

I'll admit that this is my kind of book, but on a scale of one to ten, I'd rate this one a twelve.


The Book

Midnight Ink
July 1, 2007
Mystery /Thriller
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The Reviewer

Dennis Collins
Reviewed 2007
© 2007