Sunday, February 17, 2008

Whiteout -- Ken Follett

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.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Having spent countless hours in waiting room cubicles with my mother in the last two years, I admire your ability to focus on a book. My one consolation is the stories I have heard in the nearby cubicles. City hospitals do get it all. My husband in the outer waiting room with my father, collects stories for me too.
Here's hoping for a better 2008.

Bill Crider said...

This is the kind of book you don't have to concentrate on. And here's hoping for that better 2008 for all of us.