An employee works to save the world from a health crisis caused by his company in this debut eco-thriller.
In the near future, the world is beset by two strange and terrible plagues. The first, Idiopathic Infertility Syndrome, kills fetuses in the womb. The second, Multiple Organ Dysfunction Syndrome, causes organ failure in otherwise healthy people. Veregro, a massive company that manufactures seeds and insect repellent, has offered a million-dollar reward to anyone who can discover the cause of these scourges, and someone does: a Veregro tech named Randy Hall. But the company probably won’t like what he finds, as the cause is Veregro itself. Randy takes his findings to Veregro’s vice president for communications, Walter Conroy, a former researcher whose work predicted these epidemics 18 years ago. Walter, who recently lost his wife to MODS, begins to look into the matter, only to find out soon after that Randy has been murdered. Walter seeks out Charlotte “Lottie” Winters, a former Veregro lawyer with a checkered past who lives on a Marin County commune where MODS has not yet appeared. Walter and Lottie will have to race to stop Veregro before its products lead to the death of millions—and before the company deals with them in the same manner as Randy. Roy Mankovitz and Alan Mankovitz (a father and son team) tell their story in breezy but urgent prose: “Walter returned, sat down and poured himself some tea. The way Lottie was frowning at him suggested he wouldn’t be staying long. But how could she be angry at him? They were both after the same thing, weren’t they?” The characters are generally believable, as is the book’s terrifying premise, and the authors maintain an admirably brisk pace. This verisimilitude—in terms of the setup, if not the full narrative—makes for a thriller that is pleasantly anxiety-inducing, even as it travels along a fairly predictable track. Readers will turn the pages with their stomachs in knots, hoping that some biological solution can be found, even if it is preceded by some rather silly plot developments.
A frightening, if flawed, tale about two mysterious plagues.