In the dark heart of the Horn of Africa, our shadow wars rage. But beneath the violence and terror, a bio-engineered serial killer lurks. Come back in time with ARISEN and live through the beginning of the end of the world...The Horn of Africa, place of various madness and horror – home to depraved warlords, Islamist militias, famine, drought... and regular outbreaks of killer viruses.
Tucked away in a high-tech Tactical Operations Center, inside an isolated safehouse in Somalia, sits Agency analyst Zack Altringham. He is Kenyan-born, Princeton-educated, badly burnt-out – and condemned by his language and cultural skills to a lifetime of fighting America's shadow counter-terror wars. But a threat many times worse than any suicide bombing lurks in the corner of Zack's tortured consciousness – just as it lurks out in the lawless bush of Somaliland. And when another mystery epidemic breaks out, Zack must find out if it is connected to a bio-terror plot he believed he thwarted years ago...
But, terrifyingly quickly, the epidemic reaches a tipping point and chaos descends – and Zack and his team (including two former Team Six SEALs) are trapped between the millstones of the sick and the dying on one side, and heavily armed militias on the other. Soon their “safe” house is in flames, and their only remaining option is to get in their up-armored SUV and try to escape the imploding gravity well of the city, to the safety of the American military base in Djibouti. But by then, will there be anywhere safe left on Earth to escape to?
CIA analysts Zack and Baxter are working in a protected building in the town of Hargeysa , along with two former Seals Dugan and Maximum Bob, when news of the terror attack on Britain comes through. As Britain closes its borders to all traffic, a new disease is out of control at the hospital and in town which turns people into zombies. Military patrols in the area are going missing or being attacked by undead civilians. Local militia, the remaining US military and the safe house Seals try to take down this new enemy but they are all outgunned by sheer numbers and the safehouse itself is coming under threat. Do the four men stay and hope for help that might never come or hit the road in a deadly journey to a military base and try to save themselves?
This is numbered #3.5 but it focuses on the events before what happens in book #1 Fortress Britain, following different characters who are at ground zero for the virus in Somalia. They will also appear in later books in the Arisen series so it's a good idea to read this book well before you get to the later books. I bought this after I read book #4 but I don't think it matters too much where amongst the early books you actually read it.
This book does get off to a slower start than the books in the main series as we are being introduced to the current military situation in Somalia and the war between the US military and the local terrorist group Al-Shabab. We get the background on Zack, his interest in bioterrorism and the background that leads to him being in the safehouse. Don't expect the breakneck speed of the first few Arisen books as the first third of the book is slower, because it is setting the scene for the outbreak to start spreading. Some of it was probably unnecessary but it gave good depth to the group of four and to the outbreak itself.
The action really starts when our team start seeing the zombies in the street and try to save a woman trapped by them. The local Somali men are also out on the street killing the zombies and advising the team to shoot them in the head. It did seem ironic that the locals adapted quicker to the change of circumstances than the military in both sequels did! Perhaps this says a lot about these men accepting what they saw with their eyes instead of reacting with military instincts as the soldiers would do. Either way, the locals are brave and determined to save their town against incredible odds. From this point, we were back on the rollercoaster action that you expect in the series and the action was pretty much non stop. Just the way I like it!
I liked the main characters in the book which is always important. Zach did everything he could to leave his old life behind him in Somalia and get an education in the US, but ended up back in Africa when he joined the CIA and fears he will probably die here. All he wants is to escape Africa forever. And that was before the zombies attacked...Baxter is the new guy who is trying to become part of the team and prove himself. I really liked the two Seals especially Maximum Bob. I mean how can you not love a guy with such a cool name?
The second half of the book has a lot of action as the group need to escape the safehouse and get on the road to the big military base that they have been in frequent contact with. There are going to be a lot of dangers on the road itself including traffic bottlenecks and dangerous bridges to navigate, panicking drivers and 'shoot first' militia patrols, and of course zombie hordes. It is not a journey they want to make but the safehouse is damaged and the town is overrun so they need to get away before another wave of zombies they are tracking move in and cut off their escape. The journey is full of tension and lots of dramatic moments which keeps you interested all the time. I think my favourite scene was the bridge.
I don't want to go any further into plot but there were a few unexpected twists and I liked the ending. I hadn't seen that coming and it should make for interesting moments later in the series!
Read February 2017.