Mysterious Book Report No. 488
by John Dwaine McKenna
Child Zero, (Mulholland, $28.00, 352 pages, ISBN 978-0-316-29512-3), by Chris Holm, is one scary-assed novel. Written by a real scientist, it predicts an all-too-possible future where—due to global warming—an ancient virus is released into the atmosphere from the thawing Arctic permafrost. It mutates in combination with ever-present bacterium to create a virulent strain of viruses which are impervious to most antibiotics. In plain language . . . it means a simple scratch can get infected and kill you. It means no more organ transplants or joint replacements, and a world wide resurgence of dormant diseases that are evermore resistant to antibiotics. Fear among medical scientists and physicians of a totally immune bacteria eventually emerging, cause the U.S. government to pass a bill called the Wellness Act . . . which creates the Department of Biological Security . . . and gives it broad and draconian authority to fight disease, using any means at their disposal. Citizens are required by law to report any incidents of fever, at any time, in anyone.
As the novel begins, NYPD Detective Jacob Gibson, whose wife died early in the pandemic, is home nursing his toddler daughter who has an unbroken fever of 101-plus degrees. He’s not about to call DBS, fearing that they’ll take his daughter and let her die. He’s sure that her illness is a childhood cold, and does what he can to soothe her while waiting for her fever to break. But that’s when he and his partner are ordered out by his NYPD bosses to investigate a massacre in Central Park. It might effect the pandemic and give humanity a chance to survive. The reason is an eleven year-old boy named Mateo. But word has leaked out somehow, and Mateo is on the run from the team of mercenaries who’ll murder anyone trying to protect him. The two meet up as Jake and his NYPD partner race for their lives, trying to protect both children as the novel rockets to its astonishing conclusion. Mr. Holm, a real microbiologist, blends accurate facts with great writing, believable characters and wicked plot twists into a spine-chilling page-turner!!
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