THE FIRST HORSEMAN by John Case

THE FIRST HORSEMAN

KIRKUS REVIEW

Superchilling tale of the Spanish Flu’s revival (which killed 20 to 30 million people in 1918)from the pseudonymous Case (the well-received biotech thriller The Genesis Code, 1997). Word is received by the CIA that a quarter of the population of the North Korean village of Tasi-ko has died of this flu; the other villagers, it seems, were executed just to contain the epidemic. No vaccine exists. Instead of building bombs, have the psychopathic North Koreans boiled up a batch of superflu that’s gotten out of hand? Since the planet seems threatened by a global pandemic, a US medical research team is dispatched to the Norwegian permafrost to dig up five Norwegian coal miners who died of that same flu strain in 1918 and were buried on Kopervik, a far island in the Arctic Sea, and whose frozen lungs may well still hold intact the deadly but fragile virus. A vast storm delays Washington Past reporter Frank Daly from joining the medical team before its return from the graves at Kopervik. When he does catch up, he finds that virologists Anne Adair (a genius) and Benton Kicklighter have returned empty-handed and under guard. Someone had already stolen the miners’ bodies before the American team arrived, and the predecessor left behind a Picasso-esque fresco of a giant white horse. Does the horse have anything to do with Luc Solange, head of the Temple of Light, who as the First Horseman of the Apocalypse wants to do away with industrialization? Mind-blowing Arctic amazement and an unholy crew of fanatics combine lethally to destroy the reader’s sleep, as do the really smart Frank and Annie. Far more realistic than Stephen King’s superflu in The Stand.

Pub Date: Aug. 30th, 1998
ISBN: 0-449-91102-0
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1998




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