Syndicated columnist Bill Minor, who usually writes about politics in Mississippi, got hold of Perfect Killer and decided to write about that for a change. The column below is copyrighted by Bill Minor and is reprinted with his permission.
Perdue creates a Delta thriller
By: Bill Minor, Capitol Correspondent
JACKSON - The Mississippi Delta, Itta Bena at that, is an unlikely setting for a psychological thriller laced with deadly national ramifications, but ex-Jacksonian Lewis Perdue somehow pulls it off.
Perdue, now a Sonoma, Calif., consultant who has produced several other modern thrillers, comes up with a doozie of a tale built around a weird combat medicine that a mad American war hero general with presidential ambitions wants to make a staple of the U.S. military.
The whole idea of the combat medicine is a cutting edge drug that turns ordinary grunt soldiers into psychopathic killing machines.
And Gen. Clark Braxton wants to inject American troops with Xantaeus, making them such deadly efficient killers, that, according to his reasoning, the United States can vastly reduce the size and cost of its military forces while making them more effective.
To put his master plan into operation, however, Braxton must first be elected president of the United States, as an independent, capitalizing on his military heroism mystique to win the presidency.
Anyone getting in the way of accomplishing his goal is in danger of losing his life.
Soldiers doctored with this secret drug lose fear, any regret or conscience about killing another human being. The grave danger Xantaeus poses to humanity is that the killer instinct remains permanently with many to whom it is administered.
This means that thousands of psychopathic killers - people who appear normal but kill without any compunction - could be turned loose on the world.
Project Enduring Valor has been developing the drug for years and testing it clandestinely on American military forces - apparently with tacit approval of the Pentagon. Braxton has gotten control of the scientist with the expertise to produce the drug and the company he created.
"Perfect Killer" is the title of Perdue's novel. Inevitably, it brings to mind Doctor Strangelove and how international carnage could result from military power that gets terribly out of control.
Perdue's tale becomes quite timely right now because the nation has been thrown into a wartime mentality ever since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003. And now nearly three years later, 140,000 servicemen are bogged down there fighting a guerrilla insurgency that daily is costing American lives.
The whole idea of chemically creating soldiers who are remorselessly efficient killers isn't as far-fetched as one may imagine. In the history of warfare, according to evidence Perdue produces, it has been done for centuries by varying methods, all the way from Inca warriors who went into battle fortified by chewing on coca leaves to rum rations issued to British sailors.
Perdue's protagonist in "Perfect Killer" is Dr. Brad Stone, a neurosurgeon from Delta plantation wealth who comes back to bury his mother at Itta Bena. At the cemetery he is surprised when a beauteous black woman he fondly remembers from the days when his Greenwood high school was first integrated embraces him.
She is Vanessa Thompson, who has gone on to become a nationally famous civil rights attorney and, strangely, is defending an elderly white racist convicted of murder. Unknown to Brad, she drops a tape cassette into his topcoat pocket. At that moment a gunshot rings out, leaving Vanessa dying in his arms.
That starts Brad's precariously wild ride into the dark precincts of General Braxton's mad secret plan to grab national political power and implement Project Enduring Valor on a massive scale.
It happens that the old racist Vanessa is defending had been one of the war veterans used as guinea pigs in an abandoned POW camp in Mississippi for experiments to develop the combat medicine that could turn ordinary soldiers into killing machines.
The dying old racist, after being kept a virtual prisoner in government hospitals, manages to tell Vanessa the whole story of the experiments to get Xantaeus ready for marketing as the Pentagon's secret weapon.
All of which turns the unsuspecting Dr. Brad Stone into a hunted man, targeted by Braxton and his widespread network of experienced killers.