10 February 2023

Outbreak


By Frank Gardner

Review

When a deadly virus is discovered in the Arctic Circle, MI6 agent Luke Carlton is sent to investigate. It's thought that Russia has been developing a new bio-weapon. What follows is a cat and mouse race against time to prevent a global pandemic.

Outbreak is the third book in the Luke Carlton series but the first that I've read. It worked well as a standalone and whilst I enjoyed it, it wasn't quite what I expected. There was too much chatter around tables in meetings and not enough action to totally capture my full attention. Also, an abundance of acronyms weighed it down (a case of "oh no, here comes another one!"); yes, explanations were given but was it all really necessary? I thought the writing (minus acronyms) was excellent and characters skilfully brought to life. However, I found them a little too clich├ęd.

Overall it was an enjoyable read but I do think a few tweaks here and there would elevate it to the next level.          

★★★☆☆

  • Paperback: 454 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin
  • Publication Year: 2021
  • Author: Frank Gardner
  • Genre: Thriller

Synopsis

Deep within the Arctic Circle, three scientists from the UK's Arctic Research Station trudge through a blizzard in search of shelter. They see a cabin ahead. It appears abandoned. No lights. No snowmobile outside. But as they push open the door, the smell hits them. Rank and foetid: there's something bad inside.

Then movement. A man lies slumped, his face disfigured by livid pustules. Blood runs from his nostrils; his chest glistens blackly. The team's medic, Dr Sheila Mackenzie, pushes forward to examine him when the convulsions start. Blood, bile and mucus spray into the air. The doctor knows it's too late - she's been contaminated . . .

Within hours, a full-scale operation to contain this contagion is underway. Samples are rushed to the laboratories at Porton Down on high alert. What they discover changes everything. Supported by phone and data intercepts, British Intelligence reaches a terrifying conclusion: that Russia has been developing a new generation of bio-weapons.

Dispatched to investigate, MI6's Luke Carlton finds himself on a serpentine trail of lies and deception. From a mysterious factory in Lithuania, via arrest and imprisonment, and ultimately back to Britain, he discovers that they've been looking in the wrong place all along . . .

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