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SPIRAL by Paul McEuen

SPIRAL

By Paul McEuen

Pub Date: March 22nd, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-385-34211-7
Publisher: Dial Press

A Nobel Prize–winning science professor and his protégé must fend off a sophisticated lady assassin or lose a spore-producing bio-weapon that could kill millions.

Liam Connor, an Irish native, is a decorated fungus expert at Cornell. During World War II, when he was a chemical and germs weapon researcher in England, he was summoned to the USS North Dakota to interrogate a Japanese prisoner who was part of a chilling bio-warfare project. After secretly experimenting on scores of unsuspecting Japanese, his team perfected the fungus-based Uzumaki weapon. It was so lethal and fast-spreading that the United States dropped a nuclear bomb to destroy the last Japanese submarine carrying it. Flash forward 60-plus years. Connor, who secretly made off with the prisoner's small brass cylinder containing the last Uzumaki, has been working on an antidote to the weapon, which makes victims go mad and uncontrollably violent before causing fatal internal hemorrhaging. Abducted and tortured by the techno-brilliant assassin, Orchid, he leaps to his death to protect his granddaughter Maggie and 9-year-old great-grandson Dylan. The role of their protector is then taken on by Connor's young colleague Jake, who has eyes for Maggie. The notion of the world's fate resting on the efforts of this threesome is hard to swallow. And why does the assassin, who wastes no time killing other targets, not quickly dispatch Jake? Still, this is a fast-paced and suspenseful first novel, and in other ways as frighteningly plausible as UFOs. McEuen, a leader in nanoscience research at Cornell, makes unsettling use of recent developments in the field. Tiny robotic MicroCrawlers are used to inflict torture. After you've finished the book, try not hearing them go tink tink tink in the night.

An exciting and unsettling, if sometimes incredible, doomsday novel.