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Five Years After: John Matherson #4    by William R. Forstchen order for
Five Years After
by William R. Forstchen
Order:  USA  Can
Forge, 2023 (2023)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

William R. Forstchen, author of the apocalyptic One Second After series, now tells fans what happens Five Years After. The first volume introduced former Army officer / history professor John Matherson of Black Mountain, North Carolina, widowed father of two daughters. At least one electromagnetic pulse weapon (EMP) was detonated above the United States, stopping anything dependent on electricity or electronic components.

Civilization quickly broke down, as John and others focused on survival, with some local success. Eventually, a fragile Republic of New America was formed, with John's friend and mentor Robert Scales as President. John lost one daughter but found a new reason for living in his new wife Makala and their small daughter Genevieve. Regional groups continued to struggle for power, while The Republic barely maintained a US Navy nuclear strike force.

Five years later, Scales faces resistance from anarchist groups and there are rumors of another EMP strike. He summons John (now his VP) to his underground seat of government at Raven Rock. John goes reluctantly and has to come to terms with a new underground military power led by General Joshua Lawrence, after Scales reveals that he is dying. Soon, Lawrence takes over and John heads back to his community in Black Mountain.

A bioengineered plague strikes hard and spreads fast. Lawrence has antibiotics, and uses them to blackmail John into working for him. Which is when our hero learns that another powerful underground group has been pulling strings all along. Its leader plans further actions likely to lead to a nuclear holocaust. Five Years After is another exciting read in a dark series.

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