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    Review of THE CATTLE by Greg M. Sarwa (see his website)

    Ampol Publishing, June 2005

    Programmer Brian Warbutton is doing his job, helping with last-minute tests for the next major element in the war on terror--an ID chip to be implanted in everyone in America when an electrical glitch sends him into unauthorized territory. He quickly makes a copy of what's happening on-screen, but his body self-destructs and he barely is able to plant his CD in a passing travel bag when he dies.

    Reporter Jacob Reed has just finished the story of his life--an indepth analysis of the new RFID (radio frequency ID) system explaining all of the safeguards built into it when he gets a frantic call from a cop-friend. The friend has seen something unexpected and needs to get it off his chest. Since Jacob's date stood him up, he doesn't mind too much--but when his friend hands over a video and then dies, Jacob knows he's onto something dangerous--something that might make his career, if it doesn't get him killed first. Running faster and faster to stay ahead of the federal agents pursuing him, Jacob brings in another friend to help analyze the video, then tracks down the young woman whose travel bag holds the CD.

    In a time when the American government is violating privacy laws in the name of the anti-terrorism war, author Greg M. Sarwa's look at a reasonable next step in that war is welcome. Government protestations that what they do is harmless and intended for the greater good are welcome, but when they can't be tested and proved, they may not be enough. Unfortunately, Sarwa's writing is not quite up to the story he attempts. Clunky sentences and dialogue, and overly detailed descriptions and talking-out weaken the impact of a fast-paced and exciting story.

    THE CATTLE has a faint fundamentalist take--readers may get a kick out of how Sarwa works the '666' mark of the beast into his story--but the story is really about governments and their willingness to take away rights when they can rather than about any particular religious faith. Overall, Sarwa delivers a satisfying story.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 12/20/05

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