A controversial, frightening bio-thriller that blurs the line between truth and fiction, Upon A Pale Horse raises disturbing questions about the man-made origin of nightmare epidemics, and posits a conspiracy so plausible that it will linger long after the novel's shocking conclusion.
When young attorney Jeffrey Rutherford's brother is killed in a plane crash minutes after takeoff from JFK, his life is turned upside down - especially when he discovers that his brother's career wasn't what it seemed. Jeffrey's staid existence is upended as he races to unravel a Gordian knot of deceit and betrayal, and ultimately must battle an unstoppable adversary bent on systematic global genocide.
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Q&A with Russell Blake
Q: Why a bio-thriller? You're more action/adventure/suspense guy, aren't you?
RB: I've always wanted to write a bio-thriller, but never had the big idea that would drive it. Then this year, I was researching something else, and stumbled across a series of articles that got me thinking, and then one night at around three a.m. I woke up from a dead sleep, knowing what I'd write. Something more like what Grisham did in Pelican Brief or The Firm, only within the context of bio or techno-thrillers, a la Crichton. I'm really happy with the way Upon A Pale Horse turned out. I think it will be a welcome surprise for my readership.
Q: You've expressed trepidation over releasing it, though.
RB: Sure. It's scary as hell, and a significant margin is going to hate it because of the inevitable implications it raises. Some people just don't want to believe there might be something bad out there, or that their government, or people connected to it or possessing power, could behave like the villains we justifiably demonize. Those people will hate this book. Because it won't be about the story or the data, it will be about their ideology being threatened with serious scrutiny and skepticism. So they'll rush to defend their dogma and beliefs, rather than examining the data. Because the data is frightening.
Q: You almost shelved this novel, correct?
RB: I did. It's the first novel I've ever considered not releasing. I agonized over it. I was afraid of the blowback from those aligned with Big Pharma or the government. Because they're not going to like this book. At all. Especially if it gets people asking tough questions about a topic that has been closed to debate, the experts and the media having all assured us that there's nothing to see here, and to move on. This novel, although fiction, is their worst nightmare, because it will force people to think, and that's bad for any regime that depends upon the apathy of its citizenry. Look, I'm not railing against the machine or anything. I'm simply writing a what if novel that uses history and science to paint a really terrifying picture of not only the future, but of an alternative explanation for an ugly chapter in the human condition that should outrage any thinking person. If even a few do more research as a result of this novel, I succeeded in my purpose: to get people to think.
Q: Summarize the book. Give us the elevator pitch.
RB: A novel that blends The Firm and Contagion to create a unique and frightening bio-thriller that breaks the mold.