Drs. Lippoff and Solar channel Michael Crichton with their debut medical thriller, a cautionary tale that spins a terrifying what-if scenario from the recent international concerns about the next supervirus.
What happens when pharmaceutical profits become more important than potential risk? Lippoff and Solar ask that question, envisioning the greatest health crisis since the Black Death. After being pushed out of his research position at a company called Novilis, Dr. Preston McBride heads back to hands-on work in a clinic, just as the flu vaccine he was hesitantly working on is being issued to the public. While Americans are heaving a sigh of relief that the dangerous Rohn Flu has been cured, a much-worse aftershock appears when all the dogs on Earth start dying. One by one, beloved pets, drug-sniffing canines and racing dogs all start dying in graphic, disturbing ways—bleeding from the inside-out as if they have Ebola. Preston puts the pieces together, quickly determining that the timing of the Rohn vaccine and the canine plague must be related, and races to find a cure before all of humanity disintegrates. While dog death may not seem like a harbinger of the apocalypse, the authors make the case that a disease that wipes out man’s best friend would devastate the human race in profound ways—from the rash of suicides caused by people losing their only companions to all-out riots spawned by waves of unending grief. Milking their terrifying concept, Lippoff and Solar make the horrifying genuine, most notably through a series of subplots and minichapters about the various impacts of the dog plague. The biggest misstep is that their novel runs close to 500 pages, and would have been greatly improved by a tighter pace. Potential tension is lost through a bit too much repetition as the plague worsens, but this thriller will still resonate for dog lovers and others.
The authors find emotional gravity in a fathomable medical nightmare, turning their expertise into a clever debut novel.