CARRIERS by Patrick Lynch


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Move over, Ebola virus. There's a new epidemic on the global block--an airborne filovirus just as deadly and a hundred times more contagious. Ground zero is near the village of Muaratebo in Sumatra, an embarkation point for shipments of primates to research laboratories in the US. A dozen macaques dispatched from Muaratebo arrive in Delaware showing signs of a ferociously debilitating virus that attacks their lungs, moves on to other organs, and causes inescapable death within nine days in the macaques and also in any humans unlucky enough to come into close contact with them. Back in Sumatra, Holly Becker arrives for a visit to her 12-year-old twins, Emma and Lucy--who've been staying with her ex-husband, medical botanist Jonathan Rhodes--to find a nightmarish scenario: There's no word from Jonathan, no trace of him or the girls, and no way to get past the military roadblocks to the Rhodes enclave at Rafflesia Camp in the interior. Back stateside, Lt. Col. Carmen Travis, head pathologist at the US Army's Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, traces the outbreak of the epidemic to Muaratebo; but even as her task force packs for Sumatra, a British entomologist brings the Muaratebo virus to London, and a colleague of Travis's finds a link between the outbreak and a hush-hush genetic research project that went catastrophically awry in the New Mexico desert ten years before. If you're wondering how the infection traveled from New Mexico to Sumatra, and how Travis's team can overcome the conspiracy of silence to reunite frantic Holly Becker with her daughters--well, the answers to these questions turn out to be scarier than you can imagine. Lynch's debut spreads its excitement so breathlessly over so many time zones that it reads like a screenplay just waiting for the actors to breathe life into its forgettable cast. It would make a terrific movie for audiences who weren't satisfied--or scared off--by Outbreak.

Pub Date: Aug. 11th, 1995
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Villard