In this gripping debut thriller from James M. Tabor, a brilliant and beautiful scientist and a mysterious special ops soldier must lead a team deep into the Earth on a desperate hunt for the cure to a deadly epidemic. When she was unjustly fired from a clandestine government laboratory, microbiologist Hallie Leland swore she would never look back. But she can’t ignore an urgent summons from the White House to reenter the realm of cutting-edge science and dangerous secrets. “Potentially the worst threat since Pearl Harbor” is how the president describes a mysterious epidemic killing American soldiers in Afghanistan—and now poised for outbreak in the States and beyond. Millions will die unless Hallie and a hastily mobilized team can recover the ultrarare organism needed to create a new antibiotic. The good news is that Hallie knows more about the organism than anyone else on the planet. The bad news is that it can be found only at the bottom of Earth’s deepest cave. Hallie’s team is capable—especially the mysterious Wil Bowman, who knows as much about high-tech weaponry as he does about microbiology—but the challenge appears insurmountable. Before even reaching the supercave, they must traverse a forbidding Mexican jungle populated by warring cartels, Federales, and murderous locals. Only then can they confront the cave’s flooded tunnels, lakes of acid, bottomless chasms, and mind-warping blackness. But the deadliest enemies are hiding in plain sight: a powerful traitor high in the Washington ranks and a cunning assassin deep underground, determined to turn Hallie’s mission into a journey of no return.Received an ARC of this book via Random House's EarlyBirdRead program
The cover of this book really sets up the plot and tone of the book well. There is quite a bit of science and caving terminology included in this book, but I was still able to enjoy the book with having limited know on both. Tabor does a good job describing the inside of the cave that Hallie's team goes to.
I enjoyed the local DC flavor and political intrigue as well. Tabor also captures the impact of the war on our soldiers and their families well. An actual outbreak in Iraq among our soldiers inspired this story.
As I read this book, I started to see a "24" like episode being played out on the page. Hallie, the scientists at BioTech and the doctors treating the patients are all racing against the clock to stop a full outbreak.
I participated in an EarlyBirdRead chat with Tabor this afternoon. I asked him if his writing process was different for this fiction book versus the non-fiction books that he has written. Tabor answered "Yes, because with fiction you are starting at zero, where with non-fiction there is an overall arc of the story." Tabor also shared the authors that influenced him as well as some hints about the sequel that he is writing right now.
This book is a great thriller that captures both political intrigue, scientific mystery and a budding romance.