A sick bird’s last-ditch attempt to save itself leads to disaster aboard a cruise ship.
The Grand Atlantic is a Titanic look-alike complete with wealthy passengers set to enjoy a Caribbean cruise. Dr. David Ballineau, who would have preferred Hawaii, gives in to his daughter Kit’s pleading and boards the Grand Atlantic along with his girlfriend, nurse Carolyn Ross, and Kit’s nanny, only to find his vacation burdened with medical duties. The ship’s doctor lacks experience, and the clinic is too scantily supplied to deal with the many passengers who suddenly fall ill with flulike symptoms. Kit’s young friend, a wannabe veterinarian, has found a sick bird, hidden it and tried to nurse it back to health, not knowing that it carries a deadly strain of avian flu. The inevitable outbreak spreads quickly. As the bodies pile up, the CDC can only airlift in some supplies and insist that the ship stay at sea to contain an outbreak that could kill millions should the Grand Atlantic make port. Several desperate passengers and crew members, concerned only about their own health, plot to take over the ship and bring her to a port where they can receive medical treatment. To deal with them, David must draw on both his medical skills and the talents he developed when he was in Special Forces to fight a dangerous battle with the mutineers.
As if ocean cruising hasn’t been scary enough recently, Goldberg (Patient One, 2012, etc.) devises another all-too-plausible medical scenario that will send chills up the spine despite a few moments readers will be glad are far-fetched.