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Whiteout Hardcover – November 23, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (November 23, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525948430
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525948438
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (234 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #738,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bestseller Follett sets his sights on biological terrorism, pumping old-school adrenaline into this new breed of thriller. Ex-policewoman Antonia "Toni" Gallo, head of security at a boutique pharmaceuticals company, has discovered that two doses of an experimental drug—developed as a potential cure for the deadly Madoba-2 virus—have vanished from her top-secret laboratory. This mystery is a precursor to a more serious crime being planned by Kit Oxenford, the gambling-addicted son of the company's founder, Stanley Oxenford. Kit, deeply in debt to mobster Harry Mac, sees a raid on his father's lab as a chance to score enough money to disappear and start anew in another country. Some characters are a bit familiar—the pesky, unprincipled journalist; the imbecilic police detective—but others, the mobster's psychopathic daughter in particular, show idiosyncratic originality. After a long buildup, the burglary is set in motion, and Kit's best-laid plans begin to fall apart. Eventually, good guys and bad guys end up at the Oxenford family estate, trapped in the house by a fierce snowstorm as they battle one another over the material stolen from the laboratory. A romance between the recently widowed Stanley and Toni and the unexpected addition of Toni's comically addled mother thicken the plot as Follett's agonizingly protracted, nail-biter ending drags readers to the very edge of their seats and holds them captive until the last villain is satisfactorily dispatched.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Follett's latest is a bio-thriller taking place over a wintry Christmas holiday in northern Scotland and well larded with family drama. Toni Gallo is the driven head of security for Oxenford Medical (aka the Kremlin), a research facility working on a cure for Madoba-2, an especially virulent strain of Ebola. She also has a running feud with her ex, a local cop, and is pestered by the attentions of newsman Carl. But she really wants to be with her widower boss, Stanley, whose daughter Olga's husband, Hugo, is paying unwelcome attention to his sister-in-law, Miranda, herself in uneasy love with a milquetoast boyfriend, Ned, whose daughter, Sophie, is the object of young Craig's budding affections. It is not until midnight on Christmas Eve that all this soap is rinsed away, and the plot kicks into high gear, as a band of desperate, violent thieves, led by Stanley's wastrel son, Kit, lay siege to the well-defended Kremlin in the midst of a terrible blizzard. Predictably, things go suddenly, frightfully wrong. From here on out, Follett's sure hand at the controls of a high-octane plot delivers the expected thrills in expected ways. Expect interest from readers who know what to expect. David Wright
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Ken Follett was only twenty-seven when he wrote the award-winning EYE OF THE NEEDLE, which became an international bestseller. His celebrated PILLARS OF THE EARTH was voted into the top 100 of Britain's best-loved books in the BBC's the Big Read and the sequel, WORLD WITHOUT END, will be published in Autumn 2007. He has since written several equally successful novels including, most recently, WHITEOUT. He is also the author of non-fiction bestseller ON WINGS OF EAGLES. He lives with his family in London and Hertfordshire.

Customer Reviews

Very fast paced, I found myself reading faster as the book picked up.
Helena Williamson
The characters are not well developed nor is the plot which had a lot of potential.
Renee Lasswell
The last third of the book gets going fairly well, but then seems to end abruptly.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Tucker Andersen VINE VOICE on January 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This story involves the juxtaposition of two currently popular plot devices. The first is one frequently utilized by the author in several his previous novels - thrillers based on the nefarious agenda of a group with motives related to a "headline topic" of current interest. (E.g. THE THIRD TWIN, which was published during the initial period of the debate over the ethical and practical questions regarding cloning). The second is the attempt by many authors to capitalize on the book purchasing aspects of the holiday season by incorporating (often in a quite nominal fashion) a Christmas element into a story true to their traditional genre, thereby appealing to both their traditional readers and a wider audience looking for a Christmas story. (THE CHRISTMAS THIEF by Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark - two star review 12/6/2004 - is an example of this trend.) Unfortunately, Follett's effort results in a novel that neither lives up to its potential nor is likely to satisfy his myriad fans.

The story starts off as a pretty formulaic thriller, Antonia "Toni" Gallo, the security chief at Oxenfeld Medical, a Scottish research firm, discovers a discrepancy in the BSL4 (the most secure BioSafety Level) on Christmas Eve and then discovers that lab tech Michael Ross never returned from his recent vacation. As Toni and her staff investigate, the stakes soon escalate and worries erupt about the potential for a virus to have escaped the lab. Toni is the central character in the novel, her career having been resurrected by Stanley Oxenfeld (the company's founder and research director) after her forced resignation from a promising career in the local police department had left her at a seeming professional dead end.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful By N. Bilmes VINE VOICE on August 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Positive Points:

1) The book never slows down

2) The story is entertaining and timely

3) No deep thinking is needed to understand the plot or cartoonish characters


1) The writing is horrible and cheesy (especially a very laughable scene involving a swimming pool)

2) Poorly drawn characters who lack any depth

3) Predictable beyond belief


I enjoyed it, but felt like I'd just read the literary equivalent of a Taco Bell Grande Burrito!
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50 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Gary Griffiths VINE VOICE on November 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Set in Oxenford Medical, a biomedical facility in Scotland, a lab technician is found dead at home, presumably the victim of a deadly Ebola virus variant housed at the facility. Beautiful and brainy females are often front-and-center in Ken Follett novels; in "Whiteout" it is Toni Gallo, former cop and current director of security for Oxenford, developer of anti-viral drugs to combat these deadly viruses. It is these drugs that attract the attention of a band of international burglars, commissioned by a presumed competitor to steal Oxenford's latest research. Kit Oxenford, the spoiled and sniveling son of Oxenford founder and CEO Stanley Oxenford, was the designer of the lab's security systems before being dumped from the firm for embezzlement. Up to his eyeballs in gambling debt and furious with his father for not cashing him out, the despicable Kit joins the band of thugs, providing all the information needed to override Oxenford security. But as the freak Christmas Eve storm shifts course towards the Scottish coast, this story of high-tech thievery becomes a tale as much about the weather as it is about bio-terrorism.

While this unlikely story is predictable and a bit over embellished, it is nonetheless gripping entertainment, hooking the reader in the first few pages and keeping them turning until the last bad guy is finally dispatched. Follett is never one to let rationality get in the way of a good story, and "Whiteout" is no exception - to the reader's benefit. A bit of a Robin Cook bio-thriller with some "Die Hard" thrown in, Follett's lean prose demonstrates again his uncanny ability as a storyteller, cranking out page-after page of non-stop action unadorned by fine literary baggage.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Brent S on June 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
My only regrets about reading this book are that I can never get back those 6 hours I wasted, and I'm probably too late to warn many of you not to waste your time either. I would expect 2-dimensional characters in a genre thriller, but Follett has managed to populate this book with 1-dimensional characters or worse. To top it off, there is no "thrill" in this thriller - most of the book is unneccesary detail and it truly never gets to the frightening prospect of bio-terrorism. This is simply a heist novel, and not a very good one at that. The plot is miniscule and he fills page upon page with boring, irrelevant description. There are no unexpected events to provide a thrill - I could have told you the ending after reading the first 20 pages. In short, as a thriller this book is a dud.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Mehetabelle VINE VOICE on December 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
Is this the same guy who wrote "Keys to Rebecca" and "Eye of the Needle?" Maybe he's used up his talent? Surely he can't so dispise his readers as to consciously inflict this piece of sh-- on us.

The main characters are ALL blithering idiots. Here is the incident that incited me to write this condeming review: A family is held hostage in their kitchen but an adult daughter managed to slip away. But she can't possibly walk through the snow to reach the car phone to summon help because she is in her nightgown and is barefoot! What does she do instead? After dithering on the stair landing, thinking about locking herself in the bathroom, she hides under a bed with her eyes tightly shut.

What is the reason to create such characters? Is this kind of stupidity supposed to create suspense?

I am told that it's a literaray achievement when readers react to your characters emotionally. I hate Follett's characters not because, like Medea, they are so clearly motivated to commit evil, but because they're SO STUPID. The Scots (all the stupid characters are Scots) should be offended to be so characterized.

Has Follett had a stroke and a ghost writer is milking his reputation?

This book is not a thriller -- it's an infuriator.
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