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The subject of bioengineering and the notion of germ warfare are as
timely today as they were decades ago. In the 1970s and early 1980s
novelists began to write stories with these themes. Their mission
has always been, and still is, to inform the public and to expose
the kinds of experiments (allegedly) performed by drug companies
and the government. In SHOT, Jenny Siler's new suspense novel, she
adds her take, telling the story of the humans who are damaged
after being subjected to such experiments.

Siler brings seven characters together who, for one reason or
another, need to take possession of the information hidden in the
files of a company that is doing research on mycoplasma --- "the
smallest and simplest subclass of bacteria...capable of replicating
itself…mycoplasma has no cell wall, enabling it to invade
tissue and even white blood cells" --- which could cause serious
immune system illnesses, since mycoplasma does not respond to any
known antibiotic.

The "good guys" and the "bad guys" are clearly defined in this
made-for-TV style novel. The prose is simple and direct, but the
characters are not strong enough to make readers really care about
them or their troubles. Instead of exploring in full the reason for
her characters' actions (the biochemical/germ warfare programs),
Siler chooses to concentrate on just moving the plot along. In
taking this route, the writer loses a great opportunity to expose
what, in our time, is a threat to the world as we now know it.
Thus, the novel has a very low impact, and readers may find it
difficult to get angry about the two murders, blackmail, robbery,
and cover-up that destroy lives and have an everlasting impact on
millions of people through the manufacture and testing of "dirty

With a plot that is so simply drawn, one-dimensional characters,
and action confined to a small and claustrophobic arena, the novel
loses its potential for being a real thriller. Some of the events
in the book stretch credulity, and readers will find nothing more
than an afternoon's escape in SHOT.

Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on January 23, 2011

by Jenny Siler

  • Publication Date: September 3, 2002
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
  • ISBN-10: 0805072039
  • ISBN-13: 9780805072037