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First-class thriller about biological warfare gone awry. When surgeon Brian Thorpe (at Bethesda Naval Hospital) meets an old member of the Third Marine Division with whom he served in Vietnam, he is told an unbelievable tale. Four members of their unit have died recently under similarly violent circumstances. Then Brian recovers from the body of this man--who has been complaining of abdominal pain--a small piece of metal, which at first looks like shrapnel but is actually a cannister with a micro-stopper in it. Brian studies the cannister, but he can't find any active agent in the drop of water. Next--off in Wisconsin--another old Vietnam Marine dies of plague during a strange outbreak among his cattle. Thorpe flies off to see the body, meets Dr. Diana Keegan from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, and together they perform an autopsy and discover a cannister in the victim's liver. Thorpe sees a pattern emerging: about two years before the war ended, all of these men were treated for light shrapnel wounds and sent back into battle. Clearly it was at that time that the strange cannisters were implanted. But now, knowing too much, Thorpe and Diana find themselves on the run, pursued by murderers whom they can't identify but who want to recover the cannisters for their own purposes. Even worse is the horrible likelihood of plague breaking out as a result of release into the general population of this genetically recombined virus for which (like AIDS) there is no immunity. The explanation for everything here is fairly far-fetched, but the story grips like a racing high fever--as plague novels often do.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1986
Publisher: Morrow