The End of October

Mysterious Book Report No. 405

by John Dwaine McKenna

Some novels are more entertaining than others, some are more exciting, thrilling, intricately-plotted, eye-opening or educational.  But, if you find one having ALL of those elements, it’s bound to be a number one best-selling smash hit.  Such is the case with the just published thriller, The End of October, (Knopf, $27.95, 374 pages, ISBN 978-0-525-65865-8) by Lawrence Wright, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of ten non-fiction works, including the best seller, The Looming Tower.

In a stunning bit of drama that feels as if it were ripped from the headlines, The End of October opens with the discovery of a new and previously unknown, deadly virus which causes acute hemorrhagic fever and is almost always fatal, destroying the victim’s lungs.  Sounds familiar . . . wait . . . it gets scarier.

When forty-seven people die of a mysterious Ebola-like fever in an Indonesian refugee camp, world-renowned microbiologist Dr. Henry Parsons is sent to investigate.  There, he finds squalor, lack of sanitation and medical care, the corpses of a team of NGO doctors who were ill-equipped and totally unprepared to deal with a highly infectious, universally fatal pandemic in the making, as well as bureaucratic bungling, resistance and denial.  And, despite the marshaling of world health resources and quarantines, the disease cannot be stopped or contained.  When Dr. Parson’s driver, who is a devout Muslim, goes on his obligatory once in a lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca—known as the Hajj to the faithful—he unwittingly exposes three million individuals from all corners of the world to the deadly, highly contagious viral killer.

As the virus spreads, unprepared governments scramble to respond, and the lying, finger-pointing, rumors, speculation and conspiracy theories run rampant.  Relationships between nations fracture, old animosities are revisited and hostilities begin as the world crumbles in this dystopian masterpiece that’s crammed full of scientific and political facts and insights.  Its an electrifying walk on the wild side that’s near enough to reality to make your hair stand on end!!

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