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The Aftermath by J. Stephen Thompson

Post Date: June 19, 2013 by josiemounsey

The author’s first-hand experience in the Balkans region, and his science and medical credentials, give the reader confidence in the authenticity of the story, but it is the way he weaves this insight into the tortured conditions in the region that transforms the narrative into a highly readable novel.


We pick-up the story in Prishtine, Kosova, where Canadians, Tom Stephenson and Cassie Borden, are working. Although both are forensic microbiologists, Tom is ostensibly on assignment from a magazine. The plot develops when it becomes obvious that Tom’s real assignment is of a more sinister nature: assessing bioterrorism threats for the Microbiology Intelligence Network (MIN), an organisation with links to government.


The characters are well-developed, but there is an air of mystery, something held back, adding to the sense of intrigue. The aftermath of war is always present, lurking in the background, affecting ethnic Albanian life and informing what happens. Stories related to Tom tell of atrocities in the region, and the plot thickens when Tom and Agron Shalla, an Albanian epidemiologist acting as Tom’s interpreter/driver, notice a mysterious illness affecting young people. This, together with the discovery of a mass grave containing the bones of young people exhibiting premature arthritic decay, lead Tom and Agron to suspect the Soviets used Kosova as a biological weapons testing ground for the Chikungunya virus.


Through it all, Tom and Cassie’s relationship develops, but Tom becomes increasingly paranoid and angry when he discovers that Cassie is also an agent for MIN. His demons play out, mirroring Kosovars’ efforts to restore order and the sad outcome for some of his friends and fellow workers in the region.


‘The Aftermath’ is a well-written story, and a compelling insight into the history and problems facing this hauntingly tragic region.

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