Did World War III start in 1969? It did, according to the villain of The Nightmare Factor, a masterplanner of biological warfare: ""Everybody's been developing biological agents--and they've been using them. Before Sadat kicked them out, the Russians were cultivating dengue fever in Egyptian laboratories. The Chinese are working on Lhasa fever in their African client states. . . ."" The inhuman scientist who says this is on our side, working secretly for the Defense Department to develop ""the final weapon for my country."" He's the man behind what looks like a horrible new epidemic (like Legionnaire's Disease) breaking out in San Francisco, but what is really a tightly controlled, hush-hush government experiment in germ warfare: all those mysteriously dying people are unwitting guinea pigs who've been fed mayonnaise contaminated with a noncontagious supervirus. Epidemiologist Calvin Doohan, investigating the disease's extraordinary behavior, finds that the very authorities whom he's supposedly helping are undermining him at every turn--by destroying evidence, for instance: the bags holding the victims' tell-tale blood samples are found slashed in a wrecked bloodmobile. Scortia and Robinson (Glass Inferno, Prometheus Crisis) know a hot issue when they see one and know how to package it for maximum outrage. The phony ""disease"" here may not be contagious; the novel is.