Saving Hope

Small press release by Musa Publishing (no star rating given for indies)

SUMMARY (from the back cover): (science thriller; romantic suspense)  In one of Siberia’s formerly closed cities, Alexandra Pavlova, an unemployed microbiologist, struggles to save her daughter’s life. When she turns to Vladimir, her oldest friend, for help she’s drawn into Russia’s underworld. His business dealings with the Iranians come to the attention of Sergei Borisov, an FSB (formerly the KGB) agent. Alexandra finds herself joining forces with Sergei to stop the export of a deadly virus in a race to save both her daughter and the world.

REVIEW: Saving Hope is the debut novel by International Thriller Writers member Liese Sherwood-Fabre. Set in turbulent Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Saving Hope draws on Liese’s experience living in Russia.

Inspiration to write this story came to Liese from the cold, frightening facts about the dismantling of the Soviets’ illegal biological weapons programs. Many people worry about the security of the Soviets’ old nuclear arsenal. Fewer are aware of the danger posed by the underemployed, sometimes desperate scientists who did the work of generating deadly weaponized germs and vaccines against them. (For more on the migration of Soviet bioweapons technology to other countries, read Ken Alibek’s inside account in Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World–Told from Inside by the Man Who Ran It.)

In Saving Hope, a morally-upright woman scientist tries to protect her daughter who needs specialized medical care for a heart defect. But despite her best intentions, the culture and circumstances of Siberia conspire against her. Paternalistic and violent men, materialist women, an underfunded medical system, unemployment, and corrupt bureaucracy strip her to the most basic motivation: to save her child at any cost. As a microbiologist, she holds a trump card that may be too terrible to play.

Saving Hope is loosely structured as a thriller but it’s more literary than most thrillers. Primarily this is a novel of romantic suspense. Action is low-intensity and the plot’s focus is on character and relationships: Alexandra, her husband, their friend, the FSB agent, etc. Women in particular will sympathize with Alexandra’s plight and all the challenges and humiliations she confronts that are unique to her gender.

Actual science in this novel is not prominent. The protagonist is a scientist and the export of a weaponized virus is key to the plot, but there aren’t any hard-core laboratory or tech scenes. There are, however, some vivid portrayals of the Russian medical system and the cruel realities of a bankrupt Siberian hospital.

In Saving Hope, Liese Sherwood-Fabre creates a sympathetic female protagonist who fights for what truly matters, balancing patience and compassion with a tough-as-nails strength to do what she must.

How far would you go to protect your child?

FCC disclaimer: A free promotional paper copy of this book was given to me by the author for review. As always, I made no guarantee that I would read the book or post a positive review.

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