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A still-tough-as-leather former CIA operative and a genetically engineered boy prodigy race to save the world from a synthetic virus that gobbles up human blood: a zippy hardcover debut from the prolific Land. The hook and structure here are as pop paranoid as a good X-Files episode: With the collapse of the Evil Empire, all the old spies have to look inward for conspiracies and new foes. This time the foes are the menacing Nazi ‚migr‚ scientist Dr. Erich Haslanger and his experimental-weapons crew, operating under US government sanction to develop innovative new ways of wasting people. When one of Haslanger's engineered ""offspring,""15-year-old wunderkind Josh Wolfe, accidentally releases what he thinks is a pollution-eating virus and instead wipes out the population of a mall (the grisly little bug reduces human bodies to husks of dried meat), the chase is on to secure the formula. Enter Susan Lyle, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researcher who figures out that it was Josh who devised the deadly virus, and Blaine McCracken, an honorable assassin out to explain the disappearance of his buddy from Nam, Josh's ""father."" This one-man militia embarks on a chase that leads directly to Haslanger's high-security weapons compound, where McCracken and a seven-foot Native American friend shoot it out with the bad guys. After a confused Josh escapes with a vial of the deadly virus in his pocket, the story picks up speed rapidly, and entertainingly, as McCracken & Co. trash Disneyland in a beat-the-clock effort to recover Josh, prevent him from releasing the virus, and put an end to the original outbreak, which everyone only thought was over. It's got a kid, a girl, a hero, not to mention Nazis and even a mechanical dinosaur: a slick and serpentinely constructed triumph of boy fiction if ever there was one.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1995
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Forge/Tor