This strong first effort by New York lawyer Carroll centers on a U.S. government biological research center devoted to studying such exotic and virulent diseases as African swine fever, Rift Valley fever, foot-and-mouth disease and West Nile virus. Plum Island is quietly nestled a mere two miles off of Long Island, 85 miles from New York City, and Carroll argues convincingly that the island is dangerously insecure. Based on sedulous research into declassified government files and interviews with Plum Island scientists and employees, he offers clear and convincing evidence that Plum Island is rife with the potential for a catastrophic disaster either from an accident or, equally frightening, terrorist action. Carroll raises two chilling questions: Is there a connection between Lyme disease and Plum Island research? (Old Lyme, Conn., the location of the disease's initial 1975 outbreak, is close to Plum Island.) And what about West Nile virus, which also suddenly appeared in close proximity to Plum Island? Carroll offers clear descriptions of the dangers inherent in studying deadly viruses that could infect untold numbers of humans, disrupt the food supply or cripple an entire industry-dangers heightened by a lack of even minimally adequate security. The author acknowledges that the times demand that the U.S. have a research facility like the one at Plum Island and ends this provocative book with a list of reasonable, well-conceived suggestions on how to make the research lab safe, or at least safer. Readers will hope that someone takes notice. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. (On sale Feb. 14) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.