J.M. Dillard

reviewed by Carolyn Kaberline

When the Enterprise answers a distress call from a laboratory on the Federation planet Tanis, the crew is not ready for what they find: two bodies with their throats slit and a survivor, Doctor Jeff Adams, who "looks like a walking corpse." Not only is Doctor Adams extremely pale and in need of almost continual transfusions, he claims to have no knowledge of what happened on the planet.

Soon after being brought aboard the Enterprise and placed in isolation, the strangeness of the situation grows: While it appears as though the laboratory has been engaged in research to create bioweapons, Admiral Mendez refuses to acknowledge such a possibility and sticks to the story that the planet is engaged in agricultural research only. In addition, he insists that the Enterprise bring Adams to Starbase 9 immediately—a destination totally out of their way. When Adams learns of the admiral’s orders, he begs Kirk not to take him there: He is sure he will be killed by Mendez.

More complications arise as Adams breaks out of isolation, infecting Christine Chapel as he does so. When she also falls ill to the strange disease that afflicts Adams, a race to find a cure begins. And although Adams is delivered to Starbase 9, he soon finds a way to escape and return to the Enterprise where he begins to stalk the crew to find more blood to sustain himself. Soon two other members of the Enterprise crew are attacked, and now Kirk and the Enterprise crew must not only apprehend him, they must also return to Tanis before Mendez can destroy all evidence of what really happened there.

When both groups arrive at the laboratory at the same time, Mendez holds Doctor McCoy and Spock hostage and demands that Kirk give him the virus that he’s sure has been taken to the Enterprise. To complicate matters, a Romulan ship appears on the scene and takes Spock, McCoy and Admiral Mendez prisoner until Doctor Adams is given to them. It’s now up to Kirk to rescue his friends and the Admiral and at the same time keep Doctor Adams and the virus away from the Romulans.

With a plot full of twists and turns, readers should find themselves caught up in the fast-paced story that reveals corruption in a Starfleet that is willing to kill to keep the secret of the deadly virus secret. In addition to a strong plot, Bloodthirst is a story of character as well as action. While the interactions of the Enterprise regulars are good as always, three new characters provide an added dimension to the story. There’s security ensign John Stanger, who has been demoted and transferred to the Enterprise after a forbidden weapon was found in his possession on his former ship. While others are inclined to shy away from him, Captain Kirk has found something in the man that makes him want to help in his redemption. We’re also introduced to Lamia, a young Andorian cut off from her family because of her decision to serve on a starship and who must now find her place aboard the ship in what is her first posting; there’s also Lisa Nguyen, who seeks to befriend both Stanger and Lamia, and who must decide what future awaits her as she recovers from an attack in her quarters by Doctor Adams.

For those wanting a fast paced story that relies on good character development as well as a tightly constructed plot, then Bloodthirst might be just the book to try.

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