Work Title: The Devil's Pitchfork: A Derek Stillwater Novel
Work Author(s): Mark Terry
408 pages, Softcover $13.95
Reviewer: Paula Scardamalia
"'When human beings steal the devil's pitchfork, they don't destroy it. They think by stealing it they've stopped the devil ... Instead, you've become the devil ... Congratulations.'"
"Devil's pitchfork" is what Derek Stillwater, troubleshooter for the Department of Homeland Security, calls super bugs---viruses strong enough to kill thousands. Stillwater throws his accusation at the head of a government biological warfare research center, which has created Chimera, a Level 4 the most deadly) bio-engineered virus. Like its mythological namesake, it is a monster of devastating parents---hepatitis, bubonic plague, and Ebola---with the ability to kill within twenty-four hours. Terrorists have just stolen the virus. Worse yet, since the center only created it to see if it was possible for terrorists to do so, there is no vaccine or anti-viral. As experts from other government agencies work frantically to discover a vaccine, Stillwater fights against known and unknown enemies to find and retrieve the virus.
When he hears a voice from his past on a tape recording at the murder scene of a research center scientist, Stillwater suspects that the leader of the terrorists, called Fallen, is a man believed to be dead, Richard Coffee. Coffee, who served with Stillwater during Desert Storm, supposedly died as a result of gas poisoning. As Stillwater follows his former friend's trail of death and destruction, of threats and tricks, he wonders if the nerve gas and Coffee's time as an undercover agent for the CIA in Chechnya have damaged his mind.