4.0 out of 5 stars
"The purest water on earth" is deadly...The two doctors with the World Health Organization who appeared in the novel, Pandemic, Dr. Noah Haldane and Dr. Duncan McLeod, join forces with the European Union's department of agriculture representative Elise Renard to analyze several recent cases of what appears to be a variant of Creutzfelt-Jakob Disease. When the team arrives in Limoges, France, to begin their investigation into seven mad cows, they quickly discover that this rapidly accelerated vCJD is not a straight-forward situation of contaminated cows leading to human infection. They delve more deeply into the case and find what they believe is a link between the dead human victims -- is the link connected to the cows or to water all consumed before their deaths? Water that was given to them by a mutual acquaintance -- water with supposed healing properties that came from the huge recently tapped underground lake in Antarctica - Lake Vostok. The purest water on earth, untouched by pollution. The market for this drinking water will be huge and those that discovered and tapped it definitely anticipate the huge profits they will get when it is bottled and brought and sold to the type of people who will pay a hundred dollars or more for a single bottle. They need to solve the mystery fast.
Unfortunately, as the reader suspects immediately, the water contains prions that act very rapidly to destroy the brains of those who consume it. In a race against time, the WHO team and Elise Renard try to find and stop the greedy owners who don't seem to care that they are selling a very horrible death along with the water. The reader knows the major characters involved in this complex coverup, but is not fully able to separate the good guys from the bad guys until almost the very end of the novel. It moves along at a nice pace, back and forth between the settings of French provincial farms and small cities, to the cold ice of the Antarctic.
My favorite genre is the medical thriller and I read them mainly for the science and this idea of the CJD was original and well done. I knew that the doctors would save the world from drinking the contaminated water and having a massive CJD outbreak, but the story of how they solved the case was interesting and I really enjoyed it. I saw that Kalla has written another novel, Of Flesh and Blood, and I may have to read it at some point, but I'm really waiting for another with the Haldane and McLeod characters as I want to see what happens to them next!