In this gripping debut thriller from James M. Tabor, a brilliant and beautiful scientist and a mysterious special ops soldier must lead a team deep into the Earth on a desperate hunt for the cure to a deadly epidemic.
When she was unjustly fired from a clandestine government laboratory, microbiologist Hallie Leland swore she would never look back. But she can’t ignore an urgent summons from the White House to reenter the realm of cutting-edge science and dangerous secrets.
“Potentially the worst threat since Pearl Harbor” is how the president describes a mysterious epidemic killing American soldiers in Afghanistan—and now poised for outbreak in the States and beyond. Millions will die unless Hallie and a hastily mobilized team can recover the ultrarare organism needed to create a new antibiotic. The good news is that Hallie knows more about the organism than anyone else on the planet. The bad news is that it can be found only at the bottom of Earth’s deepest cave.
Hallie’s team is capable—especially the mysterious Wil Bowman, who knows as much about high-tech weaponry as he does about microbiology—but the challenge appears insurmountable. Before even reaching the supercave, they must traverse a forbidding Mexican jungle populated by warring cartels, Federales, and murderous locals. Only then can they confront the cave’s flooded tunnels, lakes of acid, bottomless chasms, and mind-warping blackness. But the deadliest enemies are hiding in plain sight: a powerful traitor high in the Washington ranks and a cunning assassin deep underground, determined to turn Hallie’s mission into a journey of no return.
The award-winning and bestselling author of two nonfiction books about adventure and exploration, James M. Tabor now plunges readers into the harrowing subterranean world of supercaves—and even deeper, into a race-with-the-devil thriller that pits one woman against a lethal epidemic and a murderous conspiracy.
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.50(w) x 9.32(h) x 1.44(d)|
About the Author
James M. Tabor is the nationally bestselling author of Blind Descent and Forever on the Mountain and a winner of the O. Henry Award for short fiction. A former Washington, D.C., police officer and a lifelong adventure enthusiast, Tabor has written for Time, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Outside magazine, where he was a contributing editor. He wrote and hosted the PBS series The Great Outdoors and was co-creator and executive producer of the History Channel’s Journey to the Center of the World. He lives in Vermont, where he is at work on his next novel.
Read an Excerpt
Some nights, when the winds of spring rise up out of Virginia, they peel fog from the Potomac and drape it over the branches of deadtrees trapped in the river’s black mud banks. Streamers pull free and flow into the mews of Foggy Bottom and the cobblestoned alleys of Old Georgetown, float over the chockablock townhouses, and finally wrap pale, wet shrouds around war-fortune mansions.
A black Navigator pushed through this fog, driving weston O Street until it left behind the homes of the merely rich and entereda realm of oceanic wealth. The SUV turned onto a drive of gravel the size and color of corn kernels and walled on both sides by Madagascar barberry nine feet tall and bristling with three-inch thorns.
In the backseat, the passenger stared at the red spikes and thought about crucifixion.
The Navigator passed through a series of remote-controlled gates, the last of which was hung with warning signs:
It stopped in front of a mansion of rust-colored brick and white marble. Flowers like red fists filled white boxes hung beneath windows of wavy, distorted glass. Boxwoods carved into strange shapes lined the circular receiving area in front.
The driver got out, a tall man blacker than his blacksuit, lips like overripe plums, skin smooth as polished onyx. He wore sunglasses, despite the hour. His accent was thickly African: “Sair. We hair.”
The passenger stepped onto glistening cobblestones. A warm and moist night, fog coiling around his legs, air fragrant with boxwood and the coppery bouquet of those red flowers. The Navigator dissolved in mist. He climbed granite steps, their edges rounded off by a century and a half of wear, to a columned, curving porch that reminded him of the foredeck of an old sailing ship. He was reaching for the knocker, a massive brass cross hung upside down, when the door swung inward.
Standing before him was a tall woman wearing a blouse of lime-green silk and a white linen Dior skirt cut above the knee. She had shoulder-length red hair and green eyes and she was so beautiful that looking at her was like gazing at the sun: impossible to regard for more than seconds.
“Good evening. I am Erika. Thank you so much for coming.”Lilting, musical voice, traces of Ukraine or Belarus. She extended a hand,cool, long-fingered. She smelled faintly of gardenias.
“Mr. Adelheid has been expecting you. Please.”
He followed her down a long, dusky hallway floored with Italian marble, smooth and white as ancient ice. In pools of yellow light on the burgundy-painted walls hung what he took for reproductions, a van Gogh, a Renoir. Then he stopped.
“Excuse me. Is that a real Picasso?”
Erika glanced over her shoulder. “Of course. They are all originals.”
She brought him to a pair of doors from an old century, some European castle or palace, pushed one open, touched his arm, and left.
A man came forward holding a heavy crystal tumbler. He wore tan gabardine slacks pressed to a knife-edged crease, a blackdouble-breasted blazer, a French blue shirt open at the collar, and a pale roseascot. The visitor had never actually met someone who wore an ascot and had to keep himself from staring. The deep, resonant voice on the recordings had led him to expect someone huge and powerful, but this man was as slim as Fred Astaire and moved with the same languid grace.
A man who never hurried, he thought. Not once in his life.
For all his elegance, there was nothing effeminate about the man. Quite the opposite; he moved through space like a perfectly balanced blade.
“Bernard Adelheid.” Ahdleheight. Accent here, too. Faint, indistinct. Swiss? Dutch? “We are so glad you are here. You must be extremely busy.”
“You know government. Too much work, too few people. Always.”
“Always.” A handshake, mild, dry, brief. “What do you drink?”
“What are you having there?”
“Fifty-year-old Laphroaig, neat.” He held his crystal tumbler aloft. The room was high-ceilinged and dimly lit and the golden whiskey seemed to collect light from the tall white candles in brass wall sconces.There was a fireplace the two of them could have walked into. He could not see into the farthest corners of the room.
A hundred dollars a glass if it’s a cent, he thought.“I’ll have the same, then.”
Mr. Adelheid poured him four fingers from a Baccaratdecanter on a sideboard of medieval proportions. They clinked glasses and the host spoke in German:
“Mögest du alle Tage deines Lebens leben!”
They drank, and Mr. Adelheid said, “A very old toast. Eleventh or twelfth century. From the Teutonic Order, some say. Or perhaps de rBruderschaft St. Christoph. It goes, ‘May you live all the days of your life.’”
“Good advice. Even if easier said than done.”
“Not if one has the means.”
He raised his own tumbler, swirled the liquor, inhaled its spirit, a scent like lightning-struck oak.
“Remarkable, isn’t it?”
“As some things are.”
“Including this house.” He could feel the halls and countless dark rooms winding around him like the passages and chambers of agreat cave, dark space with weight, pressing, a sense of threat. “Is this yours?”
“Is my name on the deed? No. It belongs to a family of my acquaintance.”
“It looks very old.”
“Built in 1854 by Uriah Sadler. A ship owner.”
“What kinds of ships did he own?”
Mr. Adelheid smiled. “Fast ships with big holds and hard crews. He was a slave trader.”
He thought of the black man who had let him out of the car. “Your own crew. Impressive.”
“You mean Adou. Yes. A Ugandan. Mostly civilized.”
He saw chopped limbs, brained babies, changed the subject. “The place is huge.”
“And bigger than what you can see. Captain Sadler had unusual tastes even for a slaver. The cellar beneath is vast. Rooms with granite walls and drains. To contain the screams and flush the blood, I’ve been told.”
“A horrible time.” He could think of nothing else to say.
Mr. Adelheid sipped, watched him. “I hope you will stay to dine with me.”
“I had planned on it.”
“Wonderful. Please, come and sit.”
They took places at a table set for four. Crystal and silver sparkled on white linen. He had never been good at small talk, but Mr. Adelheid was extraordinary, so after a while he felt as though he were in one of those foreign films where people speak endlessly across fabulous tables, every utterance freighted with wit and irony. They talked about Washington’s execrable weather, the visitor’s workload, AfPak, one subject flowing smoothly into the next. Mr. Adelheid made a story about hunting wild boar in Russia sound like an elegant fable.
A waiter appeared, removed his empty tumbler, replaced it with a full one.
“Shall we begin with some Strangford Lough oysters?” Mr.Adelheid smiled, then looked abashed. “I’m so sorry. You do like oysters, don’tyou?”
The few raw oysters he had ever eaten had made him think of toilet bowls. “Absolutely,” he said.
The waiter set down silver plates with the slick, pink things in iridescent shells on crushed ice. Mr. Adelheid tipped one to his lips, slurped, savored. Steeling himself, the guest did the same. A taste like very dry champagne with a hint of salt wind. He smiled, agreeably startled.
“Incredible, no? I could eat them every day.” Mr. Adelheid lifted another. “This morning they were in the Irish Sea.”
They concentrated on the oysters. He had always known that certain people lived this way: palatial homes on estates that sprawled like counties, enormous yachts, exquisite women, the food and drink of royalty. Relishing ecstasies every day about which he could only fantasize.
He had never known how such lives were made. Now he might learn.
When he had finished eating the oysters, Mr. Adelheid pushed his plate aside, dabbed his lips.
“Let us speak now. You have a very important job at BARDA. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, yes?”
“Created in 2006 by President George W. Bush to counter biowarfare threats and responsible for, among other initiatives, ProjectBioShield.”
“Fascinating work, I imagine. Would you care to tell me about it?”
He paused while the waiter set down new plates. Velvety, chocolate-colored filets in a scarlet sauce. “Medallions of Black Forest venison with Madeira and black truffles,” Mr. Adelheid said. Then wine, poured into crystal goblets from a bottle with a label like parchment. He had drunk wine, of course, even, on a few occasions, in very expensive restaurants. Now he understood that he had never tasted great wine.
How many other great things had evaded him in this life? He suddenly felt regret so intense it made his eyes glisten. Too quickly, he brought the wine glass to his mouth, spilling a few drops onto the immaculate tablecloth, embarrassing himself. His moist eyes, the soiled linen—he felt thick and stupid in the presence of this polished man.
“I do microbiology. MDRBs.”
“I’m sorry. Multiple-drug-resistant bacteria.”
“Is it like in the movies? You know, exotic germs, that kind of thing?”
A little flare inside him. “Calling them germs is like calling diamonds rocks. They are miracles of evolution. And beautiful. Think of a spiral nebula on the head of a pin. Every color in the universe.”
“You speak of them as friends.”
“We get along well. I respect them. And admire their good qualities.”
“Astonishing evolutionary speed, for one.”
“Do you work in space suits?”
“Sometimes. Those in BSL-4.”
“What does that mean, exactly, ‘BSL-4’?”
“Biosafety Level Four. The highest security level. Positive-pressure environments. Chemturion protective suits. Respirators. Disinfectant showers and ultraviolet germicidal lights. Double-door air locks.Unbreakable labware.”
Mr. Adelheid nodded, touched his right ear with the tips of two fingers. The door swung open and Erika walked in. Even moving, shes eemed to be in repose. Everything about her was . . . perfect. Her legs, body, face, eyes—not one dissonant curve or angle.
“Good evening, Erika. Would you care for a drink? Some champagne, perhaps?”
“No thank you, sir.”
She sat, crossed her magnificent legs, and something caught in his chest.
“Erika, you have met our friend.” No name offered, none asked for.
“Would you like to spend time with our friend?”
“I would love to.” A voice like chimes, exultant, as if it were the greatest opportunity life had offered.
He almost dropped his fork, fumbled, felt like a fool.
“Would you find that agreeable?” Mr. Adelheid smiled at him.
He hesitated, thoroughly unsure how to respond.
“We could have Christina come in. Or Gisele.”
“No, no.” He reddened. “No. I mean, yes, of course, I would find that agreeable.”
“And Erika, would you like to accommodate our friend’s wishes?”
“Oh, yes.” She placed her finger tips on the back of his hand, four small, cool circles on his hot skin. There was something about the way she moved, slowly, dreamily, as though underwater. “There is a villa in the Mediterranean, on an island all its own, with a waterfall in the bedroom. Floors of pink marble, walls of glass.” She flicked her eyes at Mr. Adelheid.
He smiled. “No rules we do not make, the only laws those of nature.”
His thoughts twirled, huge black eyes, white fog, shining oysters, golden whiskey, scarlet wine, a turquoise sea scattered with flakes of light. This woman’s scent, heavier now, gardenia sweet. He closed his eyes, breathed.
I could use some air.
“Thank you, Erika.” She rose and turned to their guest.
“I hope to see you again.”
“And I . . . yes, me, too.”
He watched her leave, moving through space as though without weight.
“To the victors go the spoils.” Mr. Adelheid raised his glass again.
“God in heaven.” He drank, eyes closed.
“Would you like to learn more?”
“That’s why I came.”
Mr. Adelheid nodded. “Fine. But let us enjoy this good food first. We should never rush our pleasures.”
“Live our lives.”
“Indeed.” Mr. Adelheid did something in the air with his right hand, some ancient benediction, and picked up his knife. They ate in a nisland of light in the great shadowed room. With a silver knife he cut the venison and forked to his mouth pieces dripping with sauce. They ate and did not speak, the only sounds in the room those of their chewing and breathing and the insistent buzzing of one invisible fly.
The light in the room rippled, candle flames dancing with currents of air. He ate, drank wine, so over washed with pleasures he forgot forlong moments who and where he was.
After a time, with half of his venison uneaten, Mr. Adelheid laid down his silver, dabbed his lips. His fingers were slim and very long, tendrils with shining tips.
To leave food like that. His own plate had been clean for some minutes.
“Well. We would be very grateful for your help.”
“Leave BARDA and come to work for you?” He did not know who Mr. Adelheid worked for. But surely it would be made clear. Or would it?
“No. Not leave BARDA.”
“A mole, then.” Crude. He regretted it immediately, blushed.
The fly, buzzing again. An expression passed across Mr.Adelheid’s face, like clouds scudding over the moon. “An observer.”
“What would you want me to observe?”
“Most antibiotics today are derived from one original source, is that not true?”
“Yes. Actinomycetales. Discovered in 1940 by Selman Waksman. He got the Nobel for that work.”
“But germs are winning the battle. So I have heard.”
“Hundreds of thousands of people die every year from bacterial infections we can no longer treat. In the U.S. alone. Other places,the numbers are . . . appalling.”
“Hundreds of thousands of reported deaths. The true totalis much higher, isn’t it?”
“Of course. Did renal failure or hospital-acquired infection kill Mr. Jones? One checkmark in a different box on a report. An easy choice for dirty hospitals. Which most are.”
“And your facility—BARDA—is trying to produce an entirely new family of antibiotics.”
“Among other projects. But yes, that is one main thrust of the work.”
Mr. Adelheid smoothed his ascot. How old was the man? The visitor could not say with any certainty. Forty or sixty. His skin was smooth, eyes bright, movements lithe. But there was something ancient about him, Sphinx-like, an inscrutable repose.
“Consider this. The new currency of power is information,” Mr. Adelheid said.
“Really?” The Laphroaig and the wine were making him bolder. “So given the choice between a ton of gold and a terabyte of information, you’d take the terabyte?”
“On the surface, an easy choice. A ton of gold today is worth $45 million. No paltry sum. But: what if you have golden information? Do you have any idea how much money has been made from Dr. Waksman’s antibiotics?”
“Billions, I would guess.”
“Don’t you have politicians who can help you?”
“Of course we have politicians. And others. But no one like you.”
“So what do you need, exactly?”
“Exactly? At this very moment? Nothing. But there will come a time. Very soon, we think.”
Keeping his eyes on the table, he said, “You want me tobe a spy.”
Mr. Adelheid made a sound as if clearing something unpleasant from his throat. “Spies make death. Our wish is not to take lives but to save them.”
“For a profit.”
“Of course for a profit.” His tone suggested that any alternative would be irrational, like living without breathing. “What are millions of human lives worth?”
Mr. Adelheid regarded him in silence for a moment. “You know of Reinhold Messner? The great mountaineer?”
“I know he climbed Mount Everest solo.”
“And without oxygen. In Europe, a god. Messner said, ‘From such places you do not return unchanged.’ ”
“I don’t climb.”
“Mountains are not the only realms from which we may not return unchanged.”
Mr. Adelheid reached into his blazer, produced a slip of green paper the size of a playing card. He slid it to the middle of the table. A deposit ticket from Grand Cayman National Bank for Fifty thousand and 00/100 dollars, payable not to a name but to an eleven-digit alphanumeric sequence.
“An appreciation for the pleasure of your company this evening. You need only the PIN. Which I will give you.”
“For doing what?”
From the Hardcover edition.
What People are Saying About This
Deep-earth adventure, scintillating science, and cutthroat intrigue collide with thrilling results in James M. Tabor's The Deep Zone. Wildly imaginative but grounded in today's headlines, the story left me breathless and awed. Truly impressive. (James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of The Devil Colony)
“Deep-earth adventure, scintillating science, and cutthroat intrigue collide with thrilling results that left me breathless and awed. . . . Truly impressive.”—James Rollins
“Just like the perilous cave that serves as its backdrop, this story is dark and terrifying—but with a light at its end. The book should come shrink-wrapped with a seat belt.”—Steve Berry
“One of the most ripping, primal thrillers I’ve read in a long while.”—David Morrell
“Brings a new meaning to ‘frightening.’”—The Star-Ledger
“Thriller fans should pay attention.”—Library Journal
Ever since Michael Crichton passed, I have been looking for an author capable of crafting such creative, intelligent, pulse-pounding tales. Well, the search is over. THE DEEP ZONE is an absolutely phenomenal readTHE ANDROMEDA STRAIN for the 21st Century. Ladies and gentlemen, meet James M. Tabor, the new Michael Crichton. (Brad Thor, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of Full Black)
Just like the perilous cave that serves as its backdrop, this story is dark and terrifyingbut with a light at its end. The book should come shrink-wrapped with a seat belt. (Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Columbus Affair)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Deep Zone is a fascinating, terrifying, exhilarating book. A non-stop thriller that stands out as particularly well-paced and written. Any reader that enjoyed 'The Andromeda Strain' by Michael Crichton will love this novel.
I could not set it down! If you like thrillers, you have to read this one.
Great thrill ride of an adventure. Loved and was scared of the scientific facts behind the disease. Had never heard of deep cave diving and after reading about it...it will NOT be on my bucket list. I was fascinated, horrified, and at times shocked by the story. Think lakes of sulfuric acid, boulders the size of cars hanging overhead, bottomless pits and a flesh-eating bacteria...and that's just a tiny look into the book. The characters sing they are so well-written. Read it, strap yourself in and don't let go! Jp If I hadn't had to sleep I would've read continuously until finished.
I've read all this author's books in this series. If you like Preston and Child or James Rollins, you'll probably like this, although its a bit more gritty.( I have to skip over the torture stuff.) The information about extreme environments is really interesting. That is why I read these books even though I cringed at some of the descriptions and avoided some parts altogether.
Really spell binding---must admit that I was really amazed at the end to find out who the actually person who was the "villain" was--never would have suspected him. The author did a great job (I thought) of never leaving any clues as to that person at all.
Science and suspense...the perfect combo
Dr. Hallie Leland is asked to work in the same government laboratory that she was fired from after soldiers in Afghanistan have come down with a bacterial infection that is highly contagious and could reach epidemic proportions in days! The only possible cure can be found in a cave deep in the Mexico. A team must endure the cave¿s infrastructure, Mexican bandits and even the government itself. This debut novel is filled with tension, action, suspense and a collection of intriguing characters that make this a must read for anyone that loves a good thriller.
This book pushed all my favorite adventure/suspence buttons, thank you Mr Tabor! The Deep Zone is an excellent read...just don't start it at bed time because you will not be putting it down until all 400 pages have been read. I hope some of these characters will be back in future books I want to share more adventures with them. I've got an early review copy...the rest of you have to wait until April 3rd to pick up a copy it's a read well worth new release hardcover cost.
Won this book as a Goodreads First Read. The Deep Zone will be a great read for thriller fans. At a small army outpost hospital in war-torn Afghanistan the appearance of a drug-resistant, bacterial infection marks what could be the start of a pandemic. Highly contagious, deadly and with no current effective treatment, the race is on to find a cure. The best possibility seems to be an "extremophile" (organisms that survive only under extremely hostile conditions) found only in a supercave in southern Mexico. A team is assembled and sets off on a journey where they will have to battle not only the hosile environment of the supercave but also a region in Mexico occupied by violence prone drug cartels, Federales, and potentially unfriendly locals. And then there are also shadowy figures who seem to be intent on sabotaging the mission. I enjoyed this book. It read fast and the various subplots blended together well. I wasn't completely satisfied with the ending but would recomment it, especially to thriller/adventure fans.
*This is an advanced readers copy*After a fatal disease breakout Dr. Hallie Leland is sent with a team to dive into a dangerous cave located in an equally dangerous part of Mexico to find what she needs for the cure. The cave is the least of her and her team¿s worries though and knowing who is on whose side or who to trust can mean the difference between life and death.This is a fast paced action packed adventure. The timing is incredible and the pages just kept turning effortlessly. I have never done any climbing or diving but I could picture it all very easily and at times I even tensed up with the descriptions. I was on the edge of my seat throughout and the twists and turns along the way kept me second guessing myself. The characters and relationships are well developed and I found myself cheering a couple of them on. My complaint is that there was a little bit of cluttering with some secondary characters, they felt like they were unnecessary to the plot. Otherwise I really liked this novel and easily recommend it to anyone who likes action and adventure.
It all begins with the war in Afghanistan and a young soldier is shot. Medic care is provided immediately. Everything looked good.But something went horribly, horribly wrong, and a strain of bacteria that would make Eboli look weak threatens to take out the US military forces.If you like a good book, take a deep breath, you're about to go on a wild ride that won't let you put this book down until you've consumed it. And I seldom say that about any book these days.Tabor tells a story of espionage at a level that's gonna make you shiver with fear, and become so angry you'll want to spit in someone's eye! Then take you to plummeted levels of despair and dying. Only to raise you up to newfound love. And through it all, courage is born. Over and over.Fraught with suspense [don't try to read a bit and then attempt to go to sleep.... you'll be too wound up!] you'll find yourself tensing at every turn. And quaking in fear at the possibilities of what you might find around every corner, or stalagmite [or is that stalactite?]I give this book Five Stars and my Thumbs Up!I highly recommend this read for anyone over the age of 15. Younger teens might be okay with it if they can handle some violence. Parents should make that decision before allowing them to read this.****DISCLOSURE: The copy that I read was an "Advanced Reader's Edition" and as such may vary from the actual finished edition. The cover above is on the Advanced Reader's Edition, the actual sale copy may differ. The book will debut and begin selling on April 3rd. This copy was provided by Amazon Vine, in exchange for an independent and non-biased review.
The Deep Zone by James Tabor is a good thriller that keeps you in suspense throughout the book. The story is a combination of a medical/science and military thriller. The writing makes you feel like you are actually in the cave with the characters. As with all thrillers, there are a few portions of the book that you have to suspend your belief that the individual actually accomplished what was described. Fortunately there are very few of these in the book.I will have to go back and read some of his other novels now that I have read this book. I will be adding this author to the list I search for when looking for new books.
I recieved this book through the early reviewers progarm and I was instantly drawn in by the plot. The book was very fast paced with no slow spots. Thought it was kinda odd where they had to go to get the cure for the deadly virus. Overall a good book though.
As a diver and a caver The Deep Zone really appealed to me, but some of the excitement from my experience was dampened by the mystery gadgets that are pulled out at every obstacle. The story is interesting, relevant and keeps your attention. The machinations of Corporate Greed, genetic engineering and developing medical technologies really make this book a fun and frightening read.I hope to see Bowman in another book.
As another Early Reviewer wrote this was my first book by James M Tabor. I found the story interesting, the characters well developed, and the book became a "magnet" as I got further into it. I'm not usually one who is attracted to scientific thrillers, but this was a good read. Will certainly try other books by him.
A deadly disease begins showing up in U.S. servicemen who are wounded in Afghanistan.A group of scientists is assembled at a secret government lab to find the material that could lead to a cure. Dr. Hattie Leland had worked for this lab but been fired with what she felt was inadequate justification but now she's called upon to lead the group looking for the matter that might cure the disease. It is found at the bottom of one of the world's deepest caves.We follow parallel stories of the medical staff working with the soldiers and others who come down with the disease. Then we see the progress of the group descending into the depth of the cave. We also observe the people back at the lab who are working on a cure but also dealing with a mole but they don't know who it is.There is a group at work that doesn't want this information to reach the authorities.The author does a good job in pulling the various parts of the story together. However, when two characters who had incidents in the cave, come back into the story, it didn't seem logical.Otherwise, I enjoyed the story and think it would make a nice vacation read.
By the time I was 10 years old, I was reading Clive Cussler, Robin Cook, Michael Crichton, and Peter Benchley. Some things never change. Apparently, I was born a lover of adventure, science, and thrillers, and I will be until the day I die. James M. Tabor is a descendent of those 70¿s greats I grew up reading. So, there is never a scenario when I¿ll see a book like The Deep Zone and not want to read it.I actually got my first taste of both Mr. Tabor and this novel through his e-story, Lethal Expedition. I was pleased to see that the writing in the novel was actually stronger than in this short story, but I was very glad to have taken the time to have read it. It¿s certainly not necessary, but the events documented in Lethal Expedition are referenced several times within the novel, and it was very helpful to have that background info firsthand, as it were.On to the main novel. The first couple of chapters inform us there is secret skullduggery afoot of a pharmaceutical nature. Next, we¿re at the front in Afghanistan with a wounded soldier. After that, we¿re introduced to the novel¿s main protagonist, Hallie Leland, as she leads a cave dive in Florida. Soon enough, we learn that Hallie is not a dive bum, but rather a former government researcher, until she ran afoul of her federal employers. (Which is the story documented in Lethal Expedition.) She is, ¿Dr. Hallie Leland, BS in microbiology from Georgetown University, PhD in Microbiology, Johns Hopkins University. Extremophiles are her area of research. She is an accomplished climber and master technical diver. Her research has taken her into many caves.¿ Now, it turns out there¿s a deadly, drug-resistant bacteria running rampant through the military hospitals and it poses an unparalleled threat to national security.Suddenly the feds want Hallie back. It turns out that she¿s the only researcher with the right science background and the right fieldwork background to save the day. Prior to her firing, Hallie had been working on a promising antibiotic derived from the sample of an extremophile discovered in the darkest depths of a remote Mexican cave. They¿ve run out of the substance, but they want Hallie to lead a new expedition into this most dangerous environment.All of this expedition takes quite some time to come about. We don¿t even meet Hallie¿s cave team until about 70 pages in. It could certainly be argued that the story takes too long to get going, so be prepared to exhibit some patience at the novel¿s opening. Things pick up once the characters are in the field, with the story moving back and forth between Hallie¿s trouble-plagued expedition, and events taking place elsewhere around the world.Ultimately, I had a good time with this book, but it had flaws. While Mr. Tabor has significant writing background, he¿s a relative new-comer to the world of fiction. This is a thriller, so let¿s not dwell on character development. It is what it is. Hallie¿s a well-rounded and likeable enough protagonist. I suppose that my biggest problems with this novel were some predictable plotting, as well as some plot contrivances, some just plain dumb stuff, and a fairly clunky romantic subplot. These flaws were countered with a lot of fun in the story being told. And Tabor does a pretty terrific job with the novel¿s exotic setting. (I¿m probably one of the few readers who knows people who actually engage in the high-risk activities these characters do¿a few of them are even still alive.) This kind of world-class cave exploration is fascinating. The science is mostly unobtrusive, but well-handled in general. And there are some very entertaining plot twists and turns. Once the novel finally gets going, things are quite fast-paced. In the end, despite my criticism, I had a really good time reading this novel. It¿s exactly the sort of science-y adventure tale that I wished we saw more of. So I¿m excited by Mr. Tabor¿s debut. I hope that he continues to devel
Following an outbreak of a mysterious disease affecting U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan that antibiotics cannot kill, infectious disease specialist, Dr. Hallie Leland is called back by her former boss to lead an expedition of medical professionals into Mexico while avoiding bandits and the military to enter a cave (The Deep Zone) where she had barely survived an earlier expedition. A mile deep into the cave a miracle substance,Moon, milk exists and can combat a disease resistant to strong antibiotics attacking the troops. Hallie and her team of four must battle and overcome numerous obstacles in complete darkness in one of the biggest super caves in the world to reach the Moonmilk. Following their success in retrieving the Moonmilk a team of mercenaries awaits them to intercept Hallie and her team, kill them, and take the Moonmilk and deliver it to their bosses. Time is running out for the soldiers and medical staff exposed to the deadly bacteria so Hallie and her team are willing to fight to the death too keep the Moonmilk and get it where it's needed. Fast paced action, suspense, and a bit of medical science combine to make this one of the year's best thrillers.
This is my first book by Mr. Tabor. I was quite pleased with it, his story moves right along and keeps you waiting for what will happen next. I have found a new author always something great to have happen.
Gripping indeed. A deadly disease worse than Ebola has a grip on the military and into the civilian area. Where did it come from? How can it be cured? A trip into the deepest cave for something called moonmilk. But there are people trying to stop them, they don't want a cure until they get all the money they can from the drug they have that is slowing this disease down but not stopping it. I didn't want to put it down. Lots of twists and turns.
Mr. Tabor's writing includes superb character development. I found that I could 'see' and relate to his characters, both good and bad. The suspense and action is realistic, the 'bad guys' are believable! I was 'upset' when one of the key characters disappeared in the cave, adding to the suspense of the novel. I would rank Mr. Tabor up there with James Rollins and Jeff Long! I am looking forward to the next fiction novel by Mr. Tabor!
Enjoyed this medical thriller for the most part. After an outbreak of a deadly, antibiotic-resistant infectious disease amongst soldiers in the Middle East, a team of scientists/explorers embarks for a super cave to retrieve "moonmilk" which is thought to be able to combat the disease. The story switches locations/characters frequently, so you have to pay attention. One complaint I have is the use of acronyms without explanation. This happens throughout the book and is annoying if you aren't familiar with a lot of military/medical acronyms.All in all, a good fast-paced book with a satisfying, if somewhat implausible, ending.
The Deep Zone is a face-paced thriller meshing together current military operations, medical science, and emerging technologies with the shadowy worlds of semi-public government agencies and underworld private conglomerates. The book is well-written, hinging not on the fantasy that Tabor creates, but rather on how realistic the story arc is. This reality is only enhanced with the afterword, detailing just how real the issues presented are.
This is an extremely well written book, exciting to the end. While I do not have speleologic expertise nor a medical degree, I do know what is readable, and this book is. I think a possible pandemic is an event that has crossed everyone's mind at some point in time. This novel brings such a possibility to the fore and events unfold from there. Excitement follows. Pick up this book and you'll be entertained until you lay it down.
Tautly written thriller about an outbreak of a terrible virus and the quest for a cure, believed to be housed in a special fungus with medicinal properties. The fungus is called moonmilk and is located deep in the earth in a gargantuan and dangerous cave system. The team that gets sent to collect it is dangerous too, especially to one another. James Tabor creates a cast of of despicable characters to offset the very appealing heroine. An excellent read, and a big-time surprise find.