Title: Cold Storage (2019) Author: David Koepp Publisher: Harper Book jacket: A wild and terrifying bioterrorism adventure about three strangers who must work together to contain a highly contagious, deadly organism that could destroy all of humanity. Joe says: Cold Storage is part sci-fi thriller, part conspiracy cover-up, and all-out b-movie cheese.
Although written by first-time novelist David Koepp, this is hardly his first dance with a cursor. Maybe you have seen some of his screenplays up on the big screen. Jurassic Park. Spider-Man. You know, little indie wanna-be type films. He also directed that creepy-cool, Kevin Bacon helmer Stir of Echoes. Unfortunately, he also wrote the screenplays for Snake-Eyes and Toy Soldiers. His novel? Cold Storage? Jurassic Park in scope, but Carlito’s Way in performance.
The plot is amusing; the pace catchy. A semi-sentient fungus crashes on Earth courtesy of SkyLab (Millennials, see the Wikipedia entry). Hotshot agent Roberto Diaz contains it deep under the Appalachians never to be heard from again. Until global warming hits and that deep underground bunker is no longer as cold as it used to be. Plus, and because capitalism, the bunker has since been retrofitted as a consumer storage units. The virus breaks free in present-day Kansas where two minimum-wage employees confront it, their drunk supervisor, and possible feelings for each other, head on. Insanity and hilarity ensue.
Koepp’s characters are fun and reactive. Their interaction amplifies the situational action. Koepp also brings a voice to the creeping fungus. Its instincts evolve and darken as the story builds. Unpredictably, the simple-celled organism steals the show. By contrast, the internal dialogue of the humans is sometimes confusing and often distracting. Koepp’s own ongoing narration is hilariously inconsistent jumping from that of a kindly observer keen to tell a tale over warm chicken pot pie and a cold Guinness to a sarcastic deity scoffing at the idiots left running the store. Whereas the former kindles a touch of sympathy, the later asks with a wink that y’all still paying attention, right?
The story is fun. Koepp’s writing style is easy. All the primal notes were hit and played – good vs. evil; man vs. nature; wisdom vs. incompetence – and swirled into sticky pop-culture candy.
Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Publishers for the advance read and the HAZMAT suit.