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book review

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Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2004 07:37:17 EST
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To Everyone,
I love reading novels. Recently I read Point  Source by Dr. Richard 
Pellegrino, and I enjoyed it so much that I  wrote a review that appears below. Your 
are free to publish it if you want. It  is an interesting novel, and it would 
make an excellent holiday gift.
I am not being paid in any way to promote the book. People with  disabilities 
will find the book fascinating, particularly if you or a family  member has 
I wish all of you either a Merry Christmas, or Happy Hanukah and definitely  
Happy Holidays.
If you do not wish to receive future e-mail announcements from me please  let 
me know.
John M. Williams   
Point  Source  Rivets the Reader  
By  John M. Williams 

I love reading thrilling novels packed with international intrigue,  
suspense, action, conundrums, arrogance, murder, ambition, character  development, 
independence, subliminal messages and contemporary political  history. In Point 
Source by Dr. Richard G. Pellegrino, readers are  treated to a unique medical 
thriller with the qualities that I love in a novel.  Readers are swiftly 
carried from day-to-day and event-to-event over three months  in the lives of people 
who accidentally stumble unto an international terrorist  plot by North Korea’
s Kim Il Sung, one of President George W. Bush’s three Axis  of Evil leaders, 
to assassinate South Korean statesman and candidate for the  presidency of 
South Korea Bo Li Yeung. The weapon of choice is a biological  weapon of mass 
The author has two missions in the novel. One is to awaken the readers to  
the symptoms and the daily physical and mental challenges accompanying MS, and  
to illustrate the courage it takes to adapt to the progressive limitations of  
the disease. The second mission is to entertain the reader with a who-done-it 
 mystery that operates on several levels. He succeeds with both  missions. 
Unlike any other book I have read that covers MS, Point Source  provides 
personal insights into the disease, and celebrates the courage;  struggles, 
determination, and sense of humor people require to deal with it. The  characters 
with MS are convincingly human, and when I finished the book I did  not have the 
impression that MS individuals are supermen and women performing  Herculean 
feats. Instead I learned that MS affects 2.5 million people worldwide.  Through 
the sometimes contentious relationship between Dr. Angela Donatelli and  her 
mother Marie, who has MS, the reader discovers that this progressive  disorder 
of the nervous system is far from well understood. The deterioration of  
motor control is a central symptom of the disease, but there is a mental  
dimension as well; one that affects a patient's cognitive functions, from memory  to 
the ability to complete complex tasks. Not everyone with MS experiences such  
cognitive impairment, and for those who do, the effects are usually very 
subtle.  While I know there is no cure for MS, I learned the cause of MS is equally  
The book educates the reader on the evolving struggles that people with  MS 
face daily. It exposes the imperative of finding a cure. Knowing what I do  
about the promise of stem cell research, then I believe stem cell research  
should be funded, not only because it might help with finding a cure for MS, but  
also for its potential in curing or alleviating a host of other immune-system  
and degenerative diseases. The book also shows the hope that people with MS 
have  in the medical profession’s efforts to discover, treat and eventually cure 
the  disease.  
Dr. Pellegrino is one of the country’s top neurologists, and he  specializes 
in working with MS patients. In this medical thriller he shows his  intimate 
knowledge of the disease by imagining the onset of neurological disease  among 
an extraordinary number of patients who are developing MS symptoms in  
Hammerstone, Arkansas. His understanding of the psychological and physical  effects 
of MS is expressed primarily through Linda Tackett and Marie Donatelli.  Both 
live with MS, and both want to remain independent, as long as they can,  before 
their disease debilitates them. They exemplify the way that MS  individuals 
draw strength and support from their families and friends to deal  with the 
effects of the disease, and the personal bond between these two women  clearly 
illustrates the benefits of such support.  
Linda and Marie are invigorated by assisting Angela in discovering the  cause 
of this seemingly inexplicable mass outbreak of MS symptoms. Angela, one  of 
the book's two principal characters, is a neurologist like the author, and  
her experience in dealing with MS certainly comes from Dr.  Pellegrino’s. 
In reading about Linda and Marie's daily struggles with MS, I found  myself 
rooting for their courage and praising their independence. Angela’s  coming to 
terms with her mother’s MS is one of the underlying themes of the  book, and 
Dr. Pellegrino does an excellent job in showing how their relationship  is 
strengthened through communication, education, and love, as well as by  Angela’s 
personal realiztion that Marie fiercely defends her independence for  the sake 
of her own psychological benefit. 
In the back of this book are letters to Dr. Pellegrino from people with  MS 
expressing their feelings about the disease. Having worked with people with  
MS, the writer poignantly conveys the hopes and fears in Point Source’s  
characters. The book’s characters and letters reveal true profiles in  courage. 
I was entertained by the book’s characters and plot. Linda and Marie  
introduce Angela to the prospects that an extraordinary epidemic of MS may be  
sweeping through Hammerstone. Persuaded by Linda and Marie to solve this puzzle,  
Angela is medically challenged to discover how so many people, all from the same 
 small community, could suddenly begin showing MS symptoms. We learn that the 
 medical emergency was caused when LukeYancy unsuspectingly opens a Pandora’s 
box  he should not have touched. Intellectual innocence can cause disasters, 
and  though a man, Luke has the innocent intelligence of a child unable to 
realize  the consequences of his disastrous curiosity.   
The humanitarian in Angela compels her to find the mysterious causes of  
these symptoms. This takes her to Hammerstone, where the mystery expands to  
include the murder of a former medical colleague, Jack Burns, whose thirst for  
fame has led him to develop a new and horrible biochemical weapon. Burns’ death  
produces a plethora of questions for Angela. Does his death have anything to 
do  with the tidal wave of people developing MS symptoms? What is it that is 
causing  the outbreak of these symptoms? Are these symptoms temporary or 
permanent? Can  the causes of MS finally be explained? 
The megalomaniacal Burns was once a viral researcher and a former  colleague 
of Angela’s, who had loved titillating her by developing computer  riddles for 
her to solve. Before his death, he had e-mailed her a riddle that,  once 
solved, explains his work and his crime. Now Angela faces a life and death  
challenge to solve the riddle, entering his program, and discover the secrets  
hidden therein. Unlocking the riddle is the  challenge of a lifetime for Angela, 
who  realizes that if she fails many others will die. To find a solution to the 
task  before her, she enlists the help of the Hank McLain, Hammerstone's chief 
of  police, and calls in the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta.   
In Hammerstone, Police Chief McLain enters not just the mystery but  Angela’s 
life as well. Motivated by the death of his brother Mark, who died  fighting 
the fire that killed Burns, career officer McLain is obsessed with  finding 
out who is responsible for his brother’s death. He is a detective’s  detective, 
and he persistently searches for clues and assistance in both  Hammerstone 
and Little Rock. You know that, through sheer grit, his analytical  powers, and 
his willingness to accept help in solving his brother’s murder, that  he will 
ultimately triumph. As a character, Hank seems more appropriately suited  for 
big-city detective work, rather than sidelined in a small town like  
Hammerstone. In future novels,  I  would like to see him working in a big city. 
Hank meets Angela at the ruins of Burns’ house and, after some joshing,  they 
become friends. Bonded by common pursuits, these two self-determined  
individuals develop a strong relationship that one concludes will eventually  
consummate in romance. Still, while the relationship blossoms, the two stay  focused 
on their quests to learn the causes of both the disease outbreak and the  
violent death of Burns. 
The book brings out the close-knit relationships that people in small  
communities where everyone knows everyone. For instance, when forced to send his  
deputy Thelma Wilkins out to warn local residents to watch what they eat and  
drink, the names Jennifer, Merle, Stedmans, Jimmy McMasters roll off Hanks lips  
as easy as breathing. You know he is their protector, savior, and friend.  
Point Source also brings out the scarcity of resources that small towns  have 
and the need to send crime scene evidence to larger cities for  testing. 
One of the strengths of this book is the singleminded focus that both  
protagonists bring to discovering answers to their questions. Angela and Hank  won’t 
be stopped by any authority, including the federal government, as they try  
to solve their cases. Their focus is aggravated by FBI Special Agent John  
Holmes, an arrogant, self-centered Darth Vader carrying a badge. Holmes is  
determined to establish a possibly criminal relationship between Jack Burns and  
Angela, althrough the facts do not support the charge. His “I am above reproach  
attitude” shows why a post-Patriot Act America must curb the powers of 
ambitious  police who think they are above the rule of law. In his pursuit of Angela 
to  discover what she is working on he says, “These are federal search 
warrants and  a subpoena for her medical files. We’re going in hard, we’re going in 
fast, and  we’re going to find out just what our little local doctor has to 
tell us.”  Later, at Angela’s house to discover potentially damming information 
against  her, Holmes’ Gestapo style is useless in the face of Marie's charm 
and  hospitality when she uses both to defuse a potentially explosive 
situation.  Dealing with MS daily requires creativity and a sense of humor, and this  
situation shows how Marie has developed both.  
Holmes's behavior spurs Angela and Hank to solve their mysteries. In the  
course of their investigation, they succeed in humbling the arrogant FBI agent  
at several key moments, and I cheered each time. He reminds me of J. Edgar  
Hoover, a pompous idiot, who was more egotist than  policeman. 
In a further touch of realism, Dr. Pellegrino adds intrigue to the plot  by 
having his North Korean conspirators pose as Chinese. This is a subterfuge  
that North Koreans have used in recent years with some success. It is not  
uncommon for North Korean agents to assume Japanese and Chinese identities when  
spying undercover. Pellegrino says he intentionally used this ploy to call  
attention to this insidious policy. 
Point Source brings home the reality that a biochemical-terrorist  attack can 
strike any time and any place, and that fanatics don’t care about  their 
lives and the people they kill, whether individually or in mass. The book  tells 
us that biochemical weapons are deadly and readily available to the  highest 
bidder. I believe the author is telling us subliminally that the country  needs 
to be vigilant in our war on terror.  
Point Source  a  classic story of good triumphing over evil, both medically 
and judicially.  Angela and Hank are confident, thoughtful, courageous 
professionals, with a  strong understanding of right and wrong, and who utilize their 
backgrounds in a  climatic way to prevent an international incident involving 
bio-chemical weapons  in Little Rock. The book does not mention whether their 
government honors them  for their heroism. However, we know that Angela is 
honored by the people whose  lives she saves. And Hank? What is his reward? Read 
the book for an  answer. 
Angela and Hank are stoic anti-heroes who have other adventures in front  of 
them. I look forward to reading more of them.   
Point Source is Dr. Pellegrino’s first novel, and I hope it is not  his last. 
Published by Moments of Discovery Press in Hot  Springs, Arkansas to secure a 
copy dial 1-866-786-7954 or visit _www.mdthrillers.com_ 
(http://www.mdthrillers.com/) .   
Received on Thursday, 23 December 2004 12:42:44 UTC

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