Created by Frank Freudberg
TOMMY RHOADS isn't the protagonist in the controversial 1996 thriller Gasp! -- rather, he's the private eye who's charged with hunting down the real "hero" of the book, Martin Muntor, a Philadelphia reporter who's just been diagnosed with lung cancer.
Martin doesn't take the dignosis very well -- he's never smoked a day in his life! So he feels that's all the justification he needs to take as many people with him as he goes, setting his sights firmly on the tobacco industry and smokers. Calling himself "Virgil," and comparing himself to Jesus (he sees himself as "an unwilling Christ, made to pay for the sins of the world"), he starts lacing random cigarette packages with cyanide, and people start to die. A lot of people.
Suffice it to say Big Tobacco isn't pleased. The FBI is called in to hunt Virgil down. But Virgil proves to be a lot more difficult to catch than anyone had counted on.
Plus there are a few things W. Nicholas Pratt, the head honcho of one of the major tobacco companies, would rather the Feds not look at too closely.
Enter Tommy, an ex-cop with a taste for booze, who's looking for some big bucks to turn his life around. He agrees to join in the hunt -- and to keep an eye on the FBI for Pratt.
The book apparently caused a stir when it was first released in the nineties, even prompting a visit to the author from the authorities -- a visit the author seems quite eager to recount (see below). In 2013, the author revised the book extensively and re-released it under its original tile, Find Virgil.
The author is a novelist, journalist and ghostwriter who lives near Philadelphia and has written for Reuters, Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Der Spiegel and others.
--Thomas Berger on Gasp!
STRAIGHT FROM THE AUTHOR'S MOUTH
--Frank Freudberg, from the Amazon page for Find Virgil
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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