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By Keith Ferrell

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 2004
ISBN: 0-312-31679-8
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Fifth entry in the Ludlum fiction factory’s Covert-One series, this time from notes fleshed out by historical novelist Larkin (Passing Judgment, 1996, etc.).

Again on hand is Colonel Jon Smith, M.D., specialist in infectious diseases who chases down bad bugs meant to destroy large populations when delivered by a typical Ludlum terrorist group intent on taking over very large sections of the world. Smith works for Covert-One, the president’s personal secret intelligence agency, although this time out Jon says he’s on detached duty with the Pentagon. The big terrorist baddie now is the Lazarus Movement, an environmentalist group hijacked by a monster intent on—guess what?—wiping out most of the world and rising from the dead to rule the remainder living. How to go about this? It seems that the Teller Institute, which the president will visit in three days to lend his support to medical research underway there, has developed nanophages, supertiny organisms about the size of ten atoms that can zip about a sick body and take out cancer cells, or any other infected cells. Alas, when five cancerous mice are injected with the nanophages, four survive but the fifth shrivels. Now, if someone could isolate the shriveling agent in a nanophage, he’d have the world’s most deadly biological weapon. A top Japanese scientist on the project has disappeared. The Lazarus Movement swells gigantically when a Zimbabwe village is wiped out, with the massacre attributed to the US. Now the Lazarus Movement, misled by the novel’s chief villain, invades the Teller Institute, where Jon Smith is working: nanophage bombs blow up, and 2,000 demonstrators are killed, along with many scientists and security folk. As it happens, the disguised villain has built three flying wings to act as drones and drop nanophage bombs that will deplete the world’s oversupply of humans. Only Jon Smith can save us.

The science stuff is terrific, though the paranoia level is lower than old Bob’s.