Review of Irene Gargantini’s THE BLACKPOX THREAT

Irene Gargantini, a London Writers Society member who writes as Rene Natan, sends us this review of her new novel, The Blackpox Threat.

The Blackpox Threat
A Rene Natan Novel
An Old Line Publishing Book
ISBN-13:  978-0-9845704-5-4
ISBN-10:  0-9845704-5-4

It is my belief that not many readers of this review have dreamed of becoming a spy for their country.  In reading The Blackpox Threat by Rene Natan, you will meet Tamara Smith of London, Ontario who was challenged to do this very thing.  It wasn’t an easy decision as the nightmares of her early youth had finally begun to fade, and she was living a comfortable life.  Her parents, political refugees from the USSR, had been murdered because of her father’s covert activities.  Endangering her own life was the last thing on her mind when she accepted a job with the Modano Company—Ship Me Safely—as a public relations person. Her boss, Charles Modano, hired her to assist at his antique shop two days a week and also asked that she occasionally accompany him to social functions where many potential buyers of antiques were contacted. The Modano Company had an excellent reputation for shipping valuable items without incurring any damage. At thirty-two years of age, Tamara felt the need for financial security and to have a relaxed, stable life. She loved her job and life was good.  However, her new job brought challenges that she could never have anticipated!

Vassilli Petrovic and Brad Wilson asked her to become involved in a dangerous covert operation in which she would actually spy on the company where she was now enjoying employment. Vassilli had been a lifetime friend who helped her before and after her parents’ death and she owed him much.  But she didn’t owe anything to Brad Wilson, who was ever so determined that she go along with their request.  She had been singled out because of her position with the Modano Company whom they suspected of handling the shipment of some very dangerous cargo.  But what was this cargo? Tamara learns that it is a deadly virus called “The Blackpox” and that it is on its way to Canada. And so this beautiful woman who hadn’t wanted to leave her comfort zone agrees to participate in this dangerous mission; the operation is called “Bullfrog.”

Tamara is giving some special training as well as recording devices and other equipment to help her carry out this undertaking with as much safety as possible.  It is, however, her father’s gun—a Smith and Wesson—registered in her name that gives her the most confidence.

The characters in this novel are all believable, and their personalities developed skillfully by the author who employs natural sounding dialog to move the exciting plot forward at a fast pace.  Along with the excitement and danger, there is a romantic interest that slowly develops between Tamara and a young man named Justin Devry.  Although she is obviously attracted to him, she is not eager to get involved because of her connection with “Operation Bullfrog.” Personally, I wasn’t sure I trusted him or even those involved with her in the covert operation. As it turns out, there was a mole in their team—someone they all trusted with their lives.

Boris Youkenoff, a man knowledgeable in microbiology and organic chemistry, had worked in a natural, underground cave in Western Ukraine where there were the remains of an old lab that had been established by the Soviet Union for the development of biological weapons.  When he meets Frank Milton, who has expertise in Biology, they become a deadly duo focused on coming up with a virus that would make them rich.  Then there was Nekton who would go to any lengths to get hold of the virus.  Just how many people were involved in this threat? Was there a vaccine?  Could they be stopped by “Operation Bullfrog?”

Tamara faced many hurdles in her short spying career that included murder, her own kidnapping, betrayal, and other breathtaking twists and turns. This is a mesmerizing novel, and individuals who purchase it will agree with me that it is a “must read.”  I give The Blackpox Threat my highest recommendation.

Bettie Corbin Tucker
For Independent Professional Book Reviewers

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