Thriller

The Line Between – Tosca Lee

on
March 2, 2019
The Line Between Book Cover The Line Between
Tosca Lee
Fiction
Howard Books
January 29, 2019
Paperback
384

In this frighteningly believable thriller from New York Times bestselling author Tosca Lee, an extinct disease re-emerges from the melting Alaskan permafrost to cause madness in its victims. For recent apocalyptic cult escapee Wynter Roth, it’s the end she’d always been told was coming. When Wynter Roth is turned out of New Earth, a self-contained doomsday cult on the American prairie, she emerges into a world poised on the brink of madness as a mysterious outbreak of rapid early onset dementia spreads across the nation. As Wynter struggles to start over in a world she’s been taught to regard as evil, she finds herself face-to-face with the apocalypse she’s feared all her life—until the night her sister shows up at her doorstep with a set of medical samples. That night, Wynter learns there’s something far more sinister at play and that these samples are key to understanding the disease. Now, as the power grid fails and the nation descends into chaos, Wynter must find a way to get the samples to a lab in Colorado. Uncertain who to trust, she takes up with former military man Chase Miller, who has his own reasons for wanting to get close to the samples in her possession, and to Wynter herself. Filled with action, conspiracy, romance, and questions of whom—and what—to believe, The Line Between is a high-octane story of survival and love in a world on the brink of madness.

Accretion

The Line Between is a beautifully written page-turner that is clever, duplicitous and shrouded in menace from beginning to end. A new author for me and totally blown away with Tosca Lee’s ability to weave a powerful plot, a wide mix of intriguing characters, a cataclysmic setting and personal conflict of right and wrong, into an immersive and thrilling story.

From the first page, the narrative is off and running with the dramatic and life-changing event of 22-year-old Wynter Roth, being cast out from the “Enclave – New Earth”, where she has lived, separated from the world, for the last 15 years.

“Conventional wisdom dictates that there’s an insurmountable divide—an entire dimension of eternity and space—between Heaven and Hell. But I can tell you it’s closer to a foot and a half. 
The distance of a step. 
Or a leap of faith.”

The big consideration the reader will ponder and reassess throughout the book, is which environment Wynter associates with Heaven and which one Hell. The characterisation of Wynter is wonderfully developed and the turmoil she faces trying to reconcile the teaching she grew up with, from their charismatic leader Magnus whom she once believed to be God’s “Interpreter” on Earth, and the real world she now struggles to adapt to, with its corrupt and dangerous influences. 

With Wynter cast out from the Enclave, the story is told along 2 threads, one from that moment on, and the other from when Wynter arrived at the compound 15 years earlier with her mother, Sylvia, and sister, Jaclyn. The New Earth group and their leader Magnus is extremely well crafted to illustrate the typical dimensions and pressures of a cult and a self-proclaimed ambassador of God. The cult traits of isolation, secrecy, intolerance, manipulation, loss of self-sufficiency and supremacy of the leader, are brilliantly described. Of course, these leaders typically operate with a “Do as I say! Not as I do!” attitude and this is the case with Magnus, who will make up laws and rules to ensure he gets what he wants. He also came from a science background and has an ongoing involvement in acquiring new seed strains and believes the world will be destroyed and they will be the sanctuary for the believers.

In the present day thread, world news reports normal people suddenly experiencing a sudden and rapid onset of dementia, often accompanied by violence. The growing pandemic is identified as an ancient pion released through pork and attaching itself to an influenza strain. Before long the impact of the pandemic has seen attacks resulting in the shutting down of utilities such as electricity, vigilantes controlling their own areas and wide-scale looting. 

Jaclyn arrives secretly one night after Wynter has left the compound to give her several containers that contain material that could be used to develop a vaccine for this pandemic disease. They have been taken from Magnus! Wynter must now get these containers to someone who can develop the vaccine but there are forces seeking to prevent her, including law enforcement who believe she stole the material. Knowing who to trust is always a difficult decision but in the middle of a brain-wasting pandemic that gets much more challenging, yet she needs help.

In the end, we witness Wynter’s consideration of Heaven and Hell, the journey she has been on, physically, spiritually and mentally, and how her view has transformed throughout the novel. There is good and evil everywhere, but we expect mostly good from those that lead us. Be careful which steps we take, they may only be a foot and a half in length, but the direction is critical.

The research conducted by Tosca Lee is really interesting and does have us wondering, with the climate change how many forms of prions, bacteria and viruses are being released with the thawing of the permafrost. I had no expectation or idea of the storyline or any knowledge of Tosca Lee before I lifted this book but when I set it back down I was hooked – I have a new storyteller to follow. I would like to thank Tosca Lee for providing me with a copy of her book in return for an honest review.

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Peter Donnelly
Ireland

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley peter@thereadingdesk.com

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