An environmental grad student in Louisiana tries to stop the sale of a potentially deadly virus in Gallant’s (Jericho’s Trumpet, 2006, etc.) thriller.
When a covert government team learns that someone in Houston is planning to sell a lethal virus with the potential for global devastation, Chesney Barrett, a grad student, is team leader Travis Weld’s first choice for help. Travis also needs Chesney to keep an eye on a drug dealer and his recent methamphetamine shipment, relevant to a prior case Travis and Chesney worked together. It seems relatively simple, but soon multiple people are dead, including Chesney’s best friend in the Atchafalaya Basin. Posing as journalist Edie Hammond, Chesney travels to Delphia Virotech in Houston to find the elusive seller—most likely the same person who murdered her friend. The author drops readers into the story without establishing the characters. As such, a few details are unclear, including how Chesney is so skilled at hand-to-hand combat and why Travis can’t use a trained agent for this particular assignment. But Gallant knows how to deliver a mystery, loading the plot with suspects and not making it easy for Chesney to trust the bevy of Houston scientists. Travis doesn’t add much to the story aside from setting Chesney on the mission and repeatedly suggesting that she seduce the men for info. Fortunately, Chesney is a formidable protagonist, capable of self-defense—whether armed or not—and intuitive as well. She, for example, ensures that the stubborn Dr. Martin Giles stays calm when the two are interviewing people related to victims of a viral outbreak at a Houston hotel. Travis may come to Chesney’s rescue on occasion, but it’s safe to say that she could have handled herself all on her own. Gallant rounds out the narrative with several goodies: a coverup; the possibility of a virus carrier intentionally killing others; and the thuggish Oster (the prospective buyer) with his gun-toting henchmen.
Doesn’t cater to new readers of the series, but Chesney is an appealing, capable lead.