Richard Preston opens the Demon In The Freezer, in dramatic fashion. He recalls the death of Robert Stevens, one of the victims of the anthrax mail attacks launched after September 11th. This is followed by a gruesome autopsy and the frightening identification of the pathogen. This thrilling start draws the reader into the chilling reality of deadly biological warfare.
The intensity of the first chapter is maintained as Richard Preston describes an outbreak of smallpox in Germany. The most terrifying part of this is the attention Richard pays to the symptoms of the infected patient. His emphasis on the symptoms smallpox leaves a lasting impression about the truly horrific nature of infectious disease.
Richard Preston’s storytelling ability gives the book an edgier feel. It has all the appeal of a primal thriller, where scientists and doctors attempt to track down and kill a mass murderer. Here there are two culprits Anthrax, a stealthy, precise killer and Smallpox, a terrifying, indiscriminate slaughterer.
Richard Preston intertwines the race to eradicate Smallpox from the globe, to the artificial use of Anthrax as a Bioweapon. He these two events to inject urgency into the book, as one cannot help but contemplate the dangers of smallpox in terrorist hands.
This technique means however, that even though chapters and events in the book are thrilling and fascinating, the narrative doesn’t quite flow that naturally. This can make the book feel slightly disjointed at times
Overall however, Richard Preston’s superb rapid-fire story telling coupled with his amazing attention to detail, make for a thrilling, yet frightening read about the potential of a bioterrorist attack.