The Plague Tales

Posted by barb on Jul 11, 2004 in Books |

by Ann Benson

Benson weaves together two stories separated by nearly seven hundred years. The first is about Alejandro Caches, a jewish surgeon in Europe during the first outbreak of the plague in the 14th century. Alejandro is chased from his home in Spain to France, and then finds himself shipped off to England to ensure the safety of the royal family. The second story is set in modern times. Janie Crowe, after losing her family to a mysterious outbreak in the US, finds herself starting her life over again. With a third of the population gone, there just isn’t as much call for surgeons anymore. In the course of research for her certification as a forensic archeologist, she goes to London to examine soil samlpes. In the process, a dormant sample of the plague is unleashed.

Benson envisions a present-day Earth that has been overtaken by concern for the transmission of biotoxins and germs after much of the US has been ravaged by random outbreaks. It’s not an unreasonable near-future, and she carries it out qutie well. Her writing style is easy to read, and I enjoyed that she didn’t treat any of her characters as “sacred”.

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