Due Preparations for the Plague began as a novel by Daniel Defoe, documenting the horrific conditions that English residents suffered because of the bubonic plague. Janette Turner Hospital is an established writer researching the effects that chemical toxins have on the human body for her latest novel, and finds many similarities to the plague. Due Preparations for the Plague became the title of her new psychological thriller.
The story revolves around two main characters. Samantha is a survivor of Air France Flight 64 or code name “Flight Black Death”. She is obsessed with finding answers to the tragedy that killed her mother, father and baby brother. Lowell is haunted by the flight, while he was not a passenger his mother was a hostage and his father was a special agent involved in negotiations with the hijackers that saved only the children aboard (including Samantha). Both characters become aware that people with a connection to Flight 64 are dying. Nervous of what fate will befall them, Sam and Lowell begin to unravel the conspiracy of the American Secret Service to get a network of terrorists together to neutralise them.
Turner Hospital moves tactically through the plot to keep readers alert’ linking the characters’ lives by introducing the same scenes several times, each time using the point of view of a different character. Mythology is also used to reveal how situations repeat themselves.
Besides Defoe’s influence, a key chapter in Due Preparations for the Plague was inspired by Giovanni Boccaccio’s novel, The Decameron. This chapter has an eerie, sombre feeling which draws their investigation to a close. Yet at the same time it opens the reader to more speculation about the Flight Black Death mystery. Is this the author’s trump card to write a sequel? One can only speculate. This book leaves the impression that there are no preparations anyone or any organisation can make against the threat of terrorism.