Mortis Virum
by P. M. Johnson
Trafford Publishing   

"This is serious international and murderous hatred that we are facing."

P. M. Johnson’s debut novel feels like an old-school adventure plucked from the crimped and faded pages of a daring exploits magazine and plunked right into the middle of the decidedly dangerous world we inhabit today. Heroes and villains abound in this tale of encrypted ciphers, international terrorism, and potential pandemics. The bad guys are fanatical religious zealots out to export fear, death, and destruction on a global scale. The good guys, in addition to local police, the FBI, various government agencies and military units, are three intrepid individuals caught up in events that threaten to engulf the civilized world.

Cary Parker O’Conner is the Latin-language-loving professor of history at George Washington University. Vincent Augustine is his intelligent, though occasionally naive student. Caroline Kenneth is a brilliant, wisecracking business woman whose murdered father worked for the Department of Defense. His demise sets wheels in motion that eventually put these three modern Musketeers on the trail of the evildoers.

Johnson succeeds at putting a frightening and relatively plausible scenario together suggesting that seemingly random acts of terror are all connected and orchestrated by unseen hands intent on global domination. He’s somewhat less successful at balancing the often-jocular behavior of his enterprising threesome with the profoundly serious events that surround them. Still in all, if you’re up for rip-roaring adventure and another countdown to Armageddon, the game’s definitely afoot in Mortis Virum.

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