Subpar debut thriller in which the world is threatened with a germ-y Armageddon.
Dr. Michael Zammit bills himself as an "environmental detective," which means he's likely to get the call whenever a problem takes on epic proportions—how to manage nuclear waste, for instance. The case in point this time out: evil people have banded together to foul the Euphrates, killing thousands and endangering many thousands more. Hired by the Turkish government, Zammit, head of the International Environmental Response Team (INERT), launches an intensive investigation. Along with his team—young, smart, scientific hotshots—he wants the answers to certain seminal questions: Who are the conspirators? How do they hope to profit? And, most important, what weird contaminant are they using to do their nasty number on that vital water supply? It's at this point that GMOs (Genetically Modified Organism) make their horrifying appearance. Once produced, the lethal little things breed out of control. Cast them into water anywhere, and they'll pollute exponentially. Seeking the GMOs' begetters, INERT prepares a list of usual suspects. Prominent on it are the vulgar and vicious Papovs, president and first lady of a carnivorous state made possible by the demise of the Soviet Union. Even more fearsome, however, is that brilliantly entrepreneurial if decidedly unbalanced druglord Abdul Jamal, who never saw the corrupt act he wasn't eager to emulate and whose consuming ambition is to own a country so that he can debauch to his heart's content. Belying its name, INERT springs into action and cleans up on the dirt-bags, once again saving the world.
Pedestrian prose, robotic people: environmental-crisis consultant Sherbaniuk may get the science right, but he gets the fiction all wrong.