Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Book Review – The Biocide Conspiracy by Ann Massey

Reviewed by Shoma Mittra

Debris from a space station has disintegrated and is heading straight for the earth. NASA predicts that it will land somewhere in the vast deserts of Western Australia. When the head of mission control, Fredrick Holden is assassinated, the President of the United States sees double trouble. Not only does someone know exactly where in W.A. the wreckage will land, but also has inside dope about the deadly bacterium it contains. Ominous warnings from the diary of Fredrick Holden foretell of the immense capacity of a single milligram of the bacterium to kill one million people. Agent H is the ultimate bio-warfare agent and death will occur within thirty minutes of inhalation.
Perth resident Geronimo Jones, known as Mo to all his friends, is a high school kid of well to do Western Suburb parents. One day Mo and his friends go on a high speed chase which results in a horrific crash that leaves Mo as the only survivor. The boy is convicted by the Juvenile Courts and sent off as a jackaroo to work on a sheep farm in the isolated Pilbara region of Western Australia.  
Here begins an unusual and dangerous adventure. When his mentor Doug leaves him for two days, Mo is witness to an amazing spectacle – the descent and crash landing of the NASA space craft. It is only by accident that he discovers the deadly cylindrical container. Instinct tells Mo to hide the capsule in the ground before he leaves the wreckage to seek help.
In a neighbouring sheep station lives Elizabeth with her family and when Elizabeth’s family is captured by unidentifiable gunmen, Mo and Beth team up and resolve to find out what is going on. What they discover is the deadly repercussion that the capsule can cause.
The Biocide Conspiracy is a racy novel that keeps the reader hooked. Anne Massey has written about life in Perth and the outback with knowledge that comes from having experienced life in both places.  While readers around the world will get a glimpse of life in faraway Perth and the remote cattle stations on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert, Perth and Australian readers will delight in the familiar sounds of places and roads around their hometown. The native Australian proves to be a delightful stray from the usual American/English speak that one is used to in most books. The un-Australian may find the turns of phrases a little getting used to, but then that is what reading a good book is all about – you should come away with something new.
Anne Massey writes in a simple, engaging manner that makes this book a good read for both young adults and older readers. Anne was born in England but resides in the beautiful sea side suburb of Quinns Rocks in Western Australia and does relief teaching in between writing very readable novels.

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