Final Epidemic: A Novel of Medical Suspense


Causes: Unknown

At first, they thought it was a cold or maybe the flu. Then people started dropping where they stood.

Symptoms: Unthinkable

It could kill in hours....
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More About This Book


Causes: Unknown

At first, they thought it was a cold or maybe the flu. Then people started dropping where they stood.

Symptoms: Unthinkable

It could kill in hours. There was no known cure, no vaccine, and the only antidote could kill millions.

Diagnosis: Unstoppable.

New York, Chicago and Florida are quarantined. International travel is halted. A Japanese doomsday cult commits mass suicide, its final mission accomplished. Physician Carol Mayer was the first person to alert the Center for Disease Control, but now, as the epidemic grows, she has one last hope for finding a vaccine. His name is Beck Casey, a former CIA expert on biological warfare. And the best potential sources for stopping this plague are the worst enemies from his past.

Final Epidemic has begun.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451207302
  • Publisher: Signet
  • Publication date: 10/1/2002
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 4.32 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.05 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2007

    Confusing, a terrible read

    I disliked this book very much. It is hard to follow and doesn't make a lot of sense. The parts that did make sense were boring. I do not recommend this book to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2003

    Lethal intensity - Very highly recommended

    Deep in the outcropping of the desolate, frozen tundra a few degrees above the Artic Circle, men recover century old bodies to harvest a virus that can wipe out an entire population. They are Aum Truthseekers, men devoted a religious cult, and willing to die at their leader's command. When their leader was found guilty of murder in a court of law and given the death penalty, the judges who condemned him as a madman rather than a savior then unwittingly condemned themselves as well. Dr. Carol Mayer would rather enjoy the waters of Choctawatchee Bay than deal with a sudden influx of upper respiratory complaints. But when a patient dies in her waiting room, she realizes this is not the ordinary flu. She reports the epidemic to the Centers for Disease Control, but only one man can possibly locate a hoped-for vaccine: Beck Casey. Beck is a former CIA expert on biological warfare, where he held a job he once believed only existed in fiction. When he fell in the hands of the Russian Mafia, enduring interrogation and torture, Beck nearly died. He returned to the State an empty man, retiring from the CIA, and accepted temporary teaching positions in universities across the country. Now his country needs his expertise in epidemics, pandemics and bioplagues, as well as the social breakdown they create. Worse, his recall requires him to work hand and glove with the people who nearly destroyed him. Author Earl Merkel pens a novel of lethal intensity in FINAL EPIDEMIC. Readers will be interested to note that Penguin/Putnam originally scheduled FINAL EPIDEMIC for publication last year, but it was delayed following the September 11, 2001 attack because of content. Terrorism, warfare, and horrific situations all make FINAL EPIDEMIC a chillingly timely novel that confronts the moral and ethical issues of stemming a plague that can wipe out eighty percent of the world's population. In only four days, this virus leaves leaders with impossible scenarios, with no cure and no recovery. Riots raze cities, public buildings burn and quarantine and martial law are ineffective. This shifting narrative allows the reader a glimpse of cross cultural issues, cultist and militia mentality, and personal ramifications. A tense, roller coaster ride that readers will find impossible to put down, FINAL EPIDEMIC comes very highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2003


    In June a Japanese man, hand picked for this mission, carries the germs of a deadly disease ingenuously designed to annihilate mankind on a flight to Mexico, final destination, Miami. One month later, patients near death begin to fill a Miami hospital. Within hours attending physician Dr. Carol Mayer begins to suspect this is going to be a flu epidemic of unprecedented proportions, but tests can't pin down which flu strain it is and the U.S. government struggles to contain the secret. On the same day, Dr. Beck Casey, a former CIA agent whose title is now an academic one, reports to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta on an unwanted secret mission¿to join with the Russian government in tracking down a Japanese cult believed to have been developing a deadly virus unknown to man for several centuries. In Fort Walton Beach, Florida, Beck's daughter, who lives with her mother, makes plans to sneak away for a weekend in Miami with two of her girlfriends. Thus begins a riveting and utterly frightening tale of how the end of the world could happen, and it's all too plausible. It was particularly eerie to be reading this book while listening with half an ear to MSNBC as our government warned us once again of unnamed terrorist threats, and discussed high probability of germ warfare already developed in the Middle East. FINAL EPIDEMIC takes you on an unrestrained roller coaster ride between Russia and the U.S. as Beck struggles to find the virus before it's unleashed. But as we soon learn, it has already been unleashed and is spreading rapidly, first in Florida and next in New York through a series of incidents only a master storyteller of Merkel's caliber could depict. There are quite a few sub-plots, all equally fascinating but too involved to go into here, except to tell you it's easy to see why this book is making such an impact. Bioterrorism could happen here at any time, and it's as impossible to predict what will happen next in Merkel's book as it is in real life. Tension rapidly builds as you turn the pages. I can't recall being this uptight while reading a book since I read Debt of Honor. Merkel just doesn't let go. His writing is sharp and crisp, the action doesn't stop, ever. As for character development, Merkel wowed me there, too. The internal relationships and struggles Beck has to wade through while he fights this terrifying battle of time are astonishingly thorough and bittersweet. I can't recommend this book highly enough. Signet has a real winner this time. Merkel is heading rapidly toward the top, no doubt about it in my mind.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2003

    I'm sure glad this is fiction

    Earl Merkel's chilling novel of bioterrorism is the kind of book that'll keep you turning the pages until three in the morning. Premise: a highly infectious, genetically altered killer flu virus is released on the US and Russian populations, apparently by a cult of religious fanatics, who then, like the Heaven's Gate cult of a few years ago, commit mass suicide. There is no antidote and no vaccine. Unless some miracle occurs millions will die. This is a doomsday scenario as ripe as fallen fruit, and as poisonously possible as an Osama bin Laden daydream. Beck Casey, ex-CIA bioweapons expert, is the central character. His specialty is the social and political consequences of bioterrorism. He's primarily a historian who knows how people will behave during a murderous epidemic. Because he wrote an expert's book on the subject, he is called in by the President to help deal with the unprecedented emergency. The virus, an altered form of the Spanish flu that killed 40 million people in 1918, has broken out in the panhandle area of Florida and in Moscow. Russian President Putin, in a desperate attempt to stop the spread of the virus, has ordered the gassing of people in his affected area. The death toll will be in the hundreds of thousands. (The Russians look as bad here as they did in spy novels during the Cold War.) The US President is as yet planning no such draconian measure, but when news of the horrific response by the Russians breaks in the press, the US populace is thrown into panic. Marshal law is declared. A large area around the Florida panhandle is quarantined and all public forms of transportation are halted. Gas is severely rationed, shooting the black market price up to something like twenty dollars a gallon. There is rioting in the streets and the national guard is called out. Those trying to escape the quarantined areas are shot. The Center for Disease Control, the National Institute of Health and every other agency of the federal government, including the CIA and the FBI are directed to work toward finding the persons responsible, controlling the populace, and developing a vaccine. And this is just day one. Merkel paints a vivid portrait of what a bioterrorist attack might be like, and he gives a plausible rationale for who did it and why. Although rightly billed as a medical thriller, this is also very much an espionage thriller. There are double agents, CIA "spooks," militia crazies, jet fighter pilots, ex-KGB thugs, psychopathic killers, straight-shooting FBI agents, doctors, politicians, heads of state and a stray congressman or two all intensely involved in this worse case scenario. Although there are a number of female characters, one an FBI agent, another a doctor, and of course Beck's ex-wife and daughter, this is a mass market novel with the emphasis on action and intrigue that will appeal primarily to men. Most of the characters, as is typical in this genre, lack psychological depth, but not all. Merkel is especially good with the villainous ones--the ruthless, power hungry, Alexi; the sadistic super professional master of torture, Ilya; and the loony toon, Cappie, are the most intriguing. There are some excellent action sequences that will leave you oblivious to your surroundings as your eyes race along the lines of text. Merkel's vision is also provocative in the questions it raises about the morality and efficacy of torture (if there's a vaccine somewhere, do you torture people to get to it?) and about the sorts of unimaginable trade offs our leaders may have to make in dealing with terrorism (do you opt for millions dead to prevent tens of millions from dying?). The narrative is professional, always in control and focused: the book reads easily and compels our interest with just the right amount of characterization, suspense and interesting dialogue. It is carefully plotted and very well edited. The proofreading is also first rate. It is well researched and contains an ample

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2003

    Compelling, Real, and Frightening

    Here's a book that won't let you go till you've turned the last page. Final Epidemic is a grabber, an exciting, though terrifying novel that asks ... what if? What if biological warfare were waged on the United States on a scale of this magnitude? I found it to be frightening - irresistibly so. What could have been just yet another story of the unthinkable being wrought upon our country, instead gripped me with characters whose lives I cared about. Mr. Merkel obviously knows much about bioterrorism, and drew me in with his mastery of story. I couldn't put it down. Everything in this story could happen, tomorrow. Pass the word along... you'll want to read this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2002

    A chilling suspense novel

    This book was a good read. . . creepy and real-to-life chilling. I hope this fiction never turns into non-fiction in our lifetime. The novel was written well but should have been a longer novel with more graphic details at every turn. I would have appreciated reading more about the inner cities and riots taking place, groups forming within the cities to take them over, etc.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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