That’s the dedication at the beginning of my new medical thriller, The Jihad Virus. And even though the central hero of the tail is Dr. Peyton McKean, a man and “The Greatest Mind Since Sherlock Holmes,” there are plenty of reasons why the dedication goes to folks of the feminine gender.
The women in this story carry their fair share of the burden of fighting this deadly microbe. In the process, they stand up and are counted against terrorism and in favor of humanity. And while they’re at it, they even save the illustrious Dr. McKean a time or two.
For instance, Dr. Kay Erwin, Chief Epidemiologist at Seattle Public Health Hospital, is the one who announces the Jihad Virus threat to the world. It is also Kay who tends to Dr. McKean personally in her world-class isolation facility when he comes down with the deadly infection.
And Janet Emerson, McKean’s head technician at Seattle’s Immune Corporation, is the person tasked with making an experimental vaccine that may be the world’s last and best hope for salvation.
Suffice it to say, both ladies acquit themselves well.
And I have yet to mention the most central female presence of all. Jameela Noori, an Egyptian horse trainer, begins the book as caretaker for the Arabian steeds of the arch villain, oil-billionaire-gone-bad Sheik Abdul-Ghazi. In one scene, we see Jameela unabashedly use her riding crop to face down the Sheik when he comes at her in a moralistic fit, with a flail in hand. Then she uses it to give a slap in the face to one of his henchmen. And she does a lot more than that before the tail is done.
Strong female characters play key roles in my novels and short stories. I have always admired the qualities shared by most women. And I don’t mean those phony Hollywood visions of women as brawling, murderous warriors. I mean their real traits, like sympathy, caring, and generally giving a damn about whether their fellow human beings and creatures are happy or not. When these feminine qualities are exercised to their fullest, the bad guys’ plots are bound to fail.
That’s why, in nearly every story I write, there comes a moment when a woman must step up and be counted–against evil, and for finding answers to the stories’ central problems. Let’s hope someday women will find the ways and means to step up and solve this world’s real problems. I believe our fate is in your hands, ladies.
Maybe you can do with the men of the world what you do so well with children. Make them play fair, mind their manners, and share with others.