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'Whiteout' is another solid tale from Follet

If the narrative form can be defined as typically proceeding — from an initial state of equilibrium (however brief) to a series of destabilizing — events, ultimately concluding with a heightened state of equilibrium, — then Ken Follet is one of its masters. That isn't to say that he is a — superb writer, or a genuine wordsmith; instead, he is simply one heck — of a good storyteller. Something he has demonstrated repeatedly with books — such as "Eye of the Needle," "Triple," and "The Man From St. Petersburg," — to name just a few of his novels written over several decades. Like many — writers of the thriller genre, Follet's books don't challenge the reader — to do much more than just follow a series of quick-moving, page turning — events that traverse along a precipice with possible disaster looming — at every turn. It's never a question of whodunit in a Follet novel, but — rather will those whodunit prevail?

With the release of his current novel, "Whiteout," Follet — proves once again that he can pick headlines from the news and set about — building an engaging, if somewhat superficial plot. The story involves — a sinister plan to steal a canister of deadly virus from a Scottish research — laboratory and then sell it for millions to global terrorists. Meanwhile — the body of a missing lab technician found in his garage bleeding from — every orifice, puts the protagonist, Toni Gallo, head of security for — the lab, on high alert. Gallo is a strong woman who has spent years on — the Scottish police force and understands thoroughly what is at stake.

The search for the missing virus, which has the potential — to make the Black Plague seem like a minor event, becomes hugely problematical. — Soon after its disappearance is discovered, a monster snow storm moves — across Scotland, covering everything in massive amounts of snow and ice, — causing a whiteout. Somewhere, on a road, struggling to get to a designated — airport, are the men who have the virus, men who want only to reach their — terrorist contacts and sell the virus. It's Gallo's mission to stop them. — At all costs.

Follet often flirts with turning his stories into melodramas, — exaggerating the personalities of the characters, taking the plausible — and giving it an extra push, as if he is afraid if he doesn't make the — characters oversized the reader won't fully grasp how sympathetic or despicable — they are.

Follet's best writing occurs when he is fully engaged — in the hunt and he brings all his talents to bear describing how the bad — guys are truly bad and the good guys are, while resourceful, also truly — lucky.

For fans of the thriller genre, Follet doesn't disappoint. — "Whiteout" is a quick and ultimately satisfying weekend read.

Whiteout by Ken Follet Penguin Group, New York, NY; 374 — pages (hardback)