Veteran bestseller Ludlum (The Apocalypse Watch, 1995, etc.) takes on a co-author for his new trade paperback series.
Lynds (Mosaic, 1998, etc.) has had a calming effect on the Ludlum lust for overexclamatory prose and high body counts—although potentially millions will die here if the mysterious new virus weirdly popping up in unrelated pockets of the States isn’t identified and a cure found to reverse its fast, horrible effects. Colonel Jon Smith, an Army doctor and virologist with the US Army Medical Institute for Infectious Diseases, is in his early 40s and truly in love for the first time. His fiancée, cellular and molecular biologist Dr. Sophia Russell, often works down in Level Four of the Hot Zone at Fort Detrick, Maryland. Sophia leads a team looking into an amazing new virus that has simultaneously struck down an Army major in California, a homeless man in Boston, and a teenaged girl in Atlanta, all suffering the same symptoms and speedy death from lungs filled with blood. Twelve years ago, Sophia accompanied Dr. Victor Tremont into the wilds of Peru, where the natives successfully fought this same virus by drinking the blood of monkeys that had survived infection. When she calls Tremont to verify this, he lies and says he remembers no such thing. Then thugs enter Sophia’s lab while she’s working late, rifle her files, and jab her with the virus. With a great cloud over his heart, Jon seeks his dead fiancée’s killers—although he’s warned off the chase by a former FBI agent and college buddy who knows more about the virus than he should. Suddenly millions of unwitting victims have ingested a slow-acting form of it and will die unless given monkey-blood serum.
Even with Ludlum’s urge to italicize and slam down double exclams kept under iron control, the new team still has a pop hit on their hands that should bounce right up the bestseller lists.