I have had a yen for some time for a good medical thriller. I love Richard Preston and Michael Crichton, both names have a reputation that is hard to measure up to. Plague was a very good choice though; Victor Methos has my number.
As is common in trilogies and series the main character has a Scooby Gang and they are pitted against the world. Dr. Sam Bower and her sidekick Duncan Adams, a doctor who’d prefer you stick with calling him a microbiologist, are trying to stop a runaway train. Sam is an agent at the CDC and this outbreak in Hawaii is her big break and worst nightmare. An unknown pathogen is quickly mowing down the people of the island and her boss has her on a leash that feels like a loving, guiding hand and a brutal bridle. Playing by the rules might be what the government wants, but her oath to do no harm is interfering with her future ambitions; she is willing to give up her career to stop this outbreak.
I really enjoyed the setup of the story, much like a screenplay the different stories start in separate locations and meet at the center. We see the plague’s origins, patient zero, and then the heroes and their background are introduced into the story. This is a quick paced story and as it gains steam everything falls into place damn well. I really love the story crafting and narrative development because it encompasses a large cast of characters without becoming too focused in anyone place or anyone one person. This book would make a great movie or tv mini series.
The science here is science fiction for a reason, there is no reason to jump on any point and debate the medical or political likelihood of events. What does bare mention is that the story isn’t solely about this virus strain and impending destruction but more so the anthropological and philosophical implication of a catastrophic event. Can life survive during an epidemic? Well only so long as humanity can persist. That is more of the crux in Plague. The microhabitat that the plague exists in only pertains to its host, but the collapse of society is on the survivors.
My favorite character is the mysterious Robert Greyjoy. I love characters that exist within that ambiguously gray moral compass. His is the head you can rest the story on to see where everyone else falls–often where the reader stands as well. Robert Greyjoy allows the reader to understand better Benjamin Cornell, Ralph Wilson, Duncan and Samantha.
I already have Pestilence which is the next in the series. Can’t wait to dig in.
Recommendations: The Cobra Event Richard Preston, Micro Michael Crichton, Sudden Death Pat Wilpenter
Recommendations Based on This Read:
Samantha thought they couldn’t have found a worse pilot if they had put out an ad for one. He had the smell of alcohol on his breath and the cabin had the distinct odor of marijuana. The pilot concentrated only long enough to get in the air and then lit a joint and took a few puffs.
Agent Donner was sitting behind her and she turned to him and saw that he was a few words away from completing the New York Times crossword. “Is this plane used for drug smuggling?”
“Probably not anymore. Too many busts, too much product lost. But it most certainly was a while ago. Now they have tunnels underneath San Diego and they just bring the drugs up that way.” He looked to the pilot. “Don’t worry about him, though. He’s got a few ghosts in his skull but he’s one of the best pilots I’ve ever met. Well, that’s not true, but he’s competent enough to get us there.” He returned to his crossword.
Duncan glanced to her and then the pilot as the plane dipped down. The pilot was itching his leg. He took back the controls and the plane leveled out.
“I think we’ll die from him before the virus,” Duncan said.
“Unless you know how to fly this thing, I think we’re stuck with him.”
“He looks like he’s nodding off. I think I’ll go keep him company.”
Sam watched as he went up to the cockpit and then she pulled out her iPad. She opened Facebook and ran through a few status updates. She realized she hadn’t logged on since almost a month ago.
She read for over twenty minutes and as she was about to log off, her instant messenger dinged. It was Ralph Wilson.
What the hell do you think you’re doing, Sam?
She hesitated, and then replied, Still with Agent Donner and the rest. Heading to Peru as planned.
Why weren’t you on your flight to Fort Lauderdale?
Long story. She hesitated again and glanced around to see if anyone could see what she was typing. Once she felt safe no one could, she wrote, Were you going to quarantine us?
There was a long pause and then, Yes.
Why lie about it? If you would’ve asked me I would have gladly self-quarantined.
I didn’t know that. You don’t really know anyone until you encounter a crisis situation. I didn’t know how you would react and whether Donner would pull rank. Cornell most certainly would have called friends and gotten my order overturned.
You didn’t have to do this.
Yes I did. Where are you right now? Left Mexico several hours ago. Somewhere over South America.
Sam, I highly recommend you turn around right now. One of you may be contagious.
No one showing any symptoms. Will keep an eye out. I don’t think I could get anybody to turn around if I tried.
Understood. Have to run, someone in my office. One more thing, Agent Donner does not work for the FBI. I don’t know who he is, Sam. Please be careful. I’m urging you again to take the next flight back to the States the second you get a chance. Good luck.
Wait, Ralph? You there? Ralph? You there???????
There was no response and the green icon had turned off. She switched off Facebook and glanced back to Donner who had completed his crossword and was resting his head on the seat, his eyes closed.
The plane jerked hard to the right and Sam was flung against the cabin wall. She looked to the cockpit and saw that the pilot had nodded off for a second and Duncan had grabbed the controls. The pilot was up now and apologizing.
“He’s okay,” Duncan said, “just a little tired is all. We’ll be okay.” He looked to Sam, and blew out a nervous breath. Mouthing the words, Pray now, to her as the plane began its descent to a runway just outside of Lima, Peru.
Meet Victor Methos:
Victor Methos is a former prosecutor and is currently a criminal defense attorney in the Mountain West. He is the author of over forty books and several short story and poetry collections.
After completing his undergraduate education at the University of Utah, Mr. Methos abandoned pursuing a doctorate in philosophy for law school. A partner at a law firm he helped found, he has conducted over 100 criminal trials and has been voted one of the most respected criminal lawyers in the West by Utah Business Magazine.
Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and having lived throughout the world before settling in the United States, Mr. Methos loves experiencing new cultures and peoples. His current goal is climbing the Seven Summits, and hopefully not dying in the process.