Indie Spotlight: The Tide by Anthony J. Melchiorri

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The Tide

Series: The Tide #1

Kindle Edition, 393 pages

Published: October 11, 2015 by Thunderbird Media (1st published September 2, 2015)

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Captain Dominic Holland, seasoned covert operative and father of two girls, is sent on an unusual mission by his CIA handler, Meredith Webb. With his crew of skilled warriors and brilliant scientists, he investigates a lead into a secret laboratory on an abandoned oil rig. Nothing in his background, a lifetime of international missions to protect the United States from biological and chemical warfare, has prepared him for what they encounter.

(Warning: Mild spoilers in the rest of the review. So I’ll cut to the chase — this book is terrific :-)…Proceed at your own risk.)

A genetically engineered weapon dubbed the Oni Agent, developed by Japanese scientists and co-opted by the US government, is wreaking havoc. It transforms its victims into raging, mindless cannibals that are difficult to kill. (So what genius thought this science experiment was a good idea?) By the time Webb and his team finish their investigation, the creatures have made their way to the mainland, and the infection is spreading rapidly through the population. Dominic is desperate to keep his team alive, reconnect with Meredith, and rescue his daughters.

Multiple narratives, seamlessly woven together, run through the latter half of the novel. Dominic and his warriors continue their mission, and Meredith struggles to survive and help Dom rescue his family. Dom’s daughter Kara — a budding biologist, well-versed in survival skills — fights to protect her mother and sister. We also follow a small team of scientists as they frantically investigate the biological processes underlying the Oni Agent. In addition to his prodigious writing skills, the author brings his expertise as a biomedical engineer. He includes enough science to make this aspect of the story fairly challenging (for a layperson like me) and engrossing.

The zombie “genre,” with all its glorious badassery, is a well-trodden path. An author would be hard pressed to break ground in this area unless they were prepared to show us something new. Anthony Melchiorri pulled this off with his unique version of zombie-like creatures, which I will leave you to discover for yourself. I loved this!

The Tide a beautifully written and tightly paced thriller with light-handed and beautifully crafted descriptive detail, and the characters are well-drawn and interesting. My only objection to the novel is that I didn’t see any of the main characters as being flawed. To be fair it’s more character- than plot-driven, and the entire story is encompassed by an adrenaline-flooded crisis which, understandably, brings out the heroism in its characters in full force. Nevertheless, this left me feeling that something was missing.

This is is an excellent pick for fans of science fiction, horror, and medical thrillers. It’s beautifully written, expertly paced, and absorbing — I’m excited to have found a new-to-me series that’s virtually guaranteed to be a page turner from beginning to end.

A Memorable Quote: (When confronted with an abandoned oil rig full of raging, cannibalistic zombie-like creatures.) “What the fuck kind of twisted funhouse is this?” Miguel asked.

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