(Reviewed by Eleanor Bukowsky JUN 4, 2006)
“The technology is already in place, so why not use it? It would be a waste of all this time, money and effort if we didn’t. We just have to be careful until the laws bend in our favor—and, one way or the other, they will. Trust me.”
The strength of The Cattle lies in its “ripped-from-the-headlines” plot. Every week, there is more news from watchdog groups and the ACLU that makes us aware that they are uneasy about wireless eavesdropping, RFID tracking and other infringements upon civil liberties in America. We live in an age when your email and even your keyboard strokes can be monitored, your identity may be stolen, and the government has the ability to track every important fact about each individual who is a documented citizen in this country. So is the Orwellian scenario in this novel all that far-fetched?
The plot is standard stuff. Brian Warburton, a computer programmer at O’Hare Airport in Chicago, accidentally stumbles upon a top-secret government project, and he copies the potentially explosive information to a disk before he is terminated. The disk falls into the hands of Jacob Reed, a reporter, who is terrified about the fate that awaits him when the authorities locate him. Jacob’s pursuer is Trevor Clifton, a man who has contempt for those who “shout about the right of privacy, guaranteed in the Constitution.” He believes that the government’s invasive program is necessary in order to fight terrorism, and he is willing to kill anyone who reveals that the new four-hundred-billion dollar “National Identification System,” or NIDs, is more than just an innocuous way to keep terrorists out of the country.
Unsurprisingly, Jacob finds himself on the run, along with Anna Tabor, a beautiful young Polish woman who is dragged into this dangerous situation against her will. Sarwa wisely keeps the book moving with plenty of fast-paced action sequences. Detracting from the book’s effectiveness is the wooden dialogue (example: “Please, Miss Tabor, Anna, pull yourself together!”) and the overuse of italics and exclamation points. Examples: “He’s shooting at us!” “We have to lose them somehow!” This is amateurish. Writers who are comfortable with their ability to generate suspense do not need to telegraph that something significant is going on by constantly inserting exclamation points for emphasis.
Still, I read this novel in a few hours and found the story involving and extremely frightening. The Cattle made me wonder: How far is our government willing to go to keep track of its citizens?
- Amazon readers rating: from 17 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from The Cattle at author's website
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
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- Official website for Greg M. Sarwa
- BookInsider interview with Greg Sarwa
- Ezine Article review of The Cattle
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About the Author:
Greg Sarwa grew up in Chrzanow, Poland. After graduating from high school, he entered the Academy of Mining and Metallurgy College in Krakow, Poland to pursue a Geology degree. While still in college, he married his childhood sweetheart and shortly after, they immigrated to the United States in a search of a new beginning and to start a new life. After several years in the business world, Greg realized that his greatest unfilled passion was writing.
He lives in Northbrook, Illinois with his wife and two daughters.