I may have mentioned before that big, baggy bestsellers are one way to pass time in hospital waiting rooms. So I took this one last week when we spent seven or eight hours in an ER waiting room with Judy's mother. The plot is simple. It's about stealing a doomsday virus from a heavily protected lab. But to complicate matters, Follett throws in a snowstorm, a family in an isolated house, romances, cops who do stupid things, and so on.
One of the blurbs is from PW, and it refers to the "agonizingly protracted, nail-biter ending." I'd leave out the "nail-biter" for a more accurate description. It's as if the book is never going to get to where you know it's going. I've had fun with Follett's books before, but I thought this one was very much a by-the-numbers job, with not a surprise to be found. I'm sure it sold a million copies. Or more.
As I read the book, I thought of Alistair MacLean's The Satan Bug (originally published as by Ian Stuart). I read that one more than 40 years ago, and found it full of surprises and suspense. I have no idea if it would hold up, but maybe I'll dig it out and see. I do know that around 1963 or '64 I thought it was wonderful stuff.