Friendship City: Hanging By A Thread

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It is 2058. NYPD Detective Nick Garvey and Lenora Allison, President of the battered and reeling United States, are battling the many remaining remnants of the murderous World Council. They must confront the forced introduction of a man-made, killer plague and the destruction of the newly created Friendship City.
Ishmael, the mysterious new leader of the World Council has decided to destroy Friendship City, an autonomous joining of Brownsville, Texas, and Matamoros Mexico, where the citizens are developing their own protective Bill of Rights.
Can the plague be destroyed? Why is Friendship City spiraling into chaos? Can Ishmael and the World Council be obliterated?

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Kirkus Reviews

A familiar but sometimes-offbeat SF action thriller complete with a prospectus for good government.

In the future, the remnants of a dictatorship which once ruled the planet use a lab-created virus and planned social unrest to target their enemies in Mitchell’s dystopian SF sequel.

This follow-up continues the story begun in Sundown: Engineering Gives the Devil a Sunburn (2017). In March 2058, Earth is still building back up after the previous year’s overthrow of the World Council, a murderous organization whose vile “supreme leader from hell” Jason Beck ruled via police-state tactics, including assassination and surveillance. Nick Garvey, a no-nonsense veteran police detective in New York City, had joined with President of the United States Lenora Allison, a hands-on leader who doesn’t shy away from a fight, in an investigation that exposed and destroyed the generation-long reign of the World Council. But victory came at a price. Beck is presumed dead, but a new mystery fiend called Ishmael has risen to prominence in what remains of the regrouping World Council. Now, the evildoers resort to bioterror and blackmail, first unleashing a deadly, engineered plague with strategically placed cures. This is just a foretaste of a second, even deadlier pestilence, which comes with a demand from Ishmael for the forces of justice and democracy to surrender. A key target of the World Council’s revenge is the glass-walled showcase community of Friendship City, an amalgam of Brownsville, Texas, and Matamoros, Mexico, designed to set an example of model citizenship, racial harmony, and civic responsibility for other nations to try out on their own troubled borders. Garvey, Allison, and other key allies find themselves inside Friendship City, dealing with waves of crime and violence instigated by World Council infiltrators and collaborators as the plague threat looms.

Mitchell relates this tale in short, staccato sentences that are reminiscent of Jack Webb’s narration in the classic cop show Dragnet. Garvey is a similarly familiar type of fearless cop, common in thrillers, who can seemingly shrug off any damage that’s inflicted upon him. However, he is a bit of an unusual player in the action-hero department, as he’s a grandfather whose family spends much of the adventure right alongside him—either willingly or unwillingly; the good guys here have an alarming tendency to suddenly drop their guards and make themselves vulnerable at strategic moments, but, then again, so do the villains. One subplot deals with Garvey’s estranged, now-comatose daughter who hated him for meting out punishment to a scoundrel uncle, which she may or may not remember when she wakes up. Perhaps the biggest payoff here is the “BORO,” or the Bill of Rights with Obligations, reprinted in full in the appendix, which lays out the ground rules for behavior and administration for all residents of Friendship City; it brings the material into line with the work of such SF grandmasters as Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein, who were wont to include civics and social-responsibility instruction in their fictional worlds. The conclusion leaves the door open for another sequel.

A familiar but sometimes-offbeat SF action thriller complete with a prospectus for good government.

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