REVIEW BY TRACY BAIM
Copyright by The Windy City Times
Chicagoan Carlos T. Mock is a doctor and his new novel, The Mosaic Virus ( Floricanto Press, paperback, edited by Katherine V. Forrest ) , makes full use of his medical background to create a tale of murder and intrigue during the early 1980s.
Mock, who is well-known as a supporter of GLBT, AIDS and Latino causes in Chicago, has set his newest book in the Vatican, the U.S., and Cape Town, South Africa, as he sends readers around the world in search of the cause of a mysterious virus killing priests-a virus that is strikingly similar to the new plague just being discovered among gay men in the U.S.
Jesuit Priest Javier Barraza is our hero, trying to fight against repressive Catholic ideas as well as his own longing for a childhood sweetheart--a woman now working for the FBI. The two met as teenagers in Argentina, and Special Agent Lillian Davis-Lodge has made sure she meets up with her friend again years later as they both search for the truth. The book is full of intricate medical details, but it is not too intense for someone who does not understand the inner workings of a virus. We follow Barraza and Davis-Lodge as they try to unravel an onion of power and deceit that goes all the way to the White House and the Pope--starting with World War II and ending in 1983. Mock has used actual history as a backdrop, adjusting timelines and some facts to fit his fictional story, but that does not take away from the mystery and suspense.
The Mosaic Virus works by presenting intriguing ideas that work precisely because they could be true. The best science fiction works when it is just one layer away from the reality we all think we know. And, in fact, there have been theories professed by activists that the HIV virus itself could have been a man-made virus that simply moved beyond its initial intended targets and use. Mock even involves former Nazi scientists living in Cape Town, experimenting with a new group of subjects, Blacks in Apartheid South Africa.
In the "real world" just this past weekend, the Vatican's pick for archbishop of Warsaw, Stanislaw Wielgus, resigned after admitting he had worked with the Polish Communist-era secret police, according to The New York Times. There are many empires of power Mock tackles in The Mosaic Virus, but despite so many conspiracy theories, Mock has managed to write an accessible story of a parallel universe that just might not be parallel after all.
by Carlos T. Mock, M.D.
Floricanto Press, $24.95, pap. ISBN-10: 0915745798, ISBN-13: 978-0915745791
Copyright by Echo Magazine - Phoenix
December 23, 2006.
If you like a thriller based on a conspiracy theory with global ramifications, put Carlos T. Mock's Mosaic Virus on your shopping list. Mock finds an ingenious way to connect the dots between real historical events and characters in a way that history (perhaps) never intended, coming up with a story both scary and plausible.
It's the early 1980s and priests in New York State are dying at an alarming rate, of a mysterious illness that kills quickly, yet baffles the medical community. The Vatican dispatches an investigator, "Father Doctor Javier Barraza the Jesuit" to determine if someone is killing priests and if there's a conspiracy afoot against the Church.
Two highly positioned Cardinals have competing agendas: one wants to learn the truth and one wants to hide it in order to protect the Church. Add a deadly FBI agent, Lillian Davis-Lodge - a female James Bond who is poised to become the next FBI Director and who had an adolescent romance with Barraza. The Vatican invites her assistance, but the FBI has its own agenda in preventing Barraza from accomplishing his mission.
As for those dots, they begin with Pope Pius XII, the Nazi regime, and a young Jew being protected from the Nazis by one of the Cardinals. That youth will one day become New York's Cardinal Spellman, whose sexual dalliances with under-aged boys were the tip of the iceberg of the Church's pedophile-priest scandals. Popes Pius XII and John Paul I figure prominently in the plot, as do the Church's sex scandals, homosexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, genocide, and even Gaëtan Dugas, once dubbed "patient zero" in the AIDS pandemic.
Mosaic Virus also hints at the shattering, sometimes crushing mystery and incomprehensibility of faith.
The Roman Catholic Church is a sacred cow that is always worthy of another skewer, and Mock delivers a potent one. In a world of wealth, power, secrecy and behind-the-scenes manipulation of global events, there's still no good-old-boys club like the Catholic Church.
Carlos Mock is a Chicago-based physician whose writing covers a broad spectrum of genres and topics. To learn more about him, visit his Web site at www.carlostmock.com.