Its amazing, and in some respects quite scary, how much life has changed in the past six months. All because some guy in a little known Chinese province ate a bat purchased from a very unhygienic market (by Western standards. Over here we think breaking the 5 second rule is living dangerously) and now the world is struggling to contain a pandemic on the scale never seen in our lifetime, and until a few years ago only imagined in a Hollywood blockbuster starring Matt Damon and Kate Winslet (Contagion 2011).
I can remember vividly going out with my wife to a local bar in mid-February (probably our Valentines date night), running into friend, and dancing the night away till the wee small hours to eighties music. Now in late August, I wonder when I will be able to do that again, along with a lot of other things. One of the most talked about pieces of literature in the early stages of the worldwide lockdown was Dean Koontz’s 1981 novel The Eyes of Darkness, which supposedly predicts a pandemic originating in Wuhan , so it was with some excitement that I looked forward to this months second book review. It is probably the first of a glut of Covid related thrillers to come our way over the next couple of years. It’s The Apocalypse Strain by Jason Parent and is published by Flame Tree Press (www.flametreepress.com) in August.
When Dr Clara St. Pierre, a medical genomics expert with MS, and her team study an ancient pandovirus at a secret research facility in Siberia.They name the virus Molli . It soon starts to display some worrying characteristics, that in the wrong hands could lead to the end of life all together. But Molli wants out of the research lab. After some industrial espionage, Clara and her team and members of ASAP, the private security firm tasked with maintaining the integrity of the facility, find themselves running for their lives . They are trying to escape a building which is designed to be inescapable. Can Clara, along an Antipodean security contractor called Monty, plus Dante, a mysterious mercenary for hire, escape the facility and stop Molli getting beyond its walls…
I recently discovered, while listening to the Ologies podcast with Ali ward, my own personal Lockdown panacea, that Small pox was killed off by Cow Pox and that the word vaccination comes from Vaca, the Spanish for cow. In the same vein, The Apocalypse Strain could be the ideal cure for your Lockdown boredom, because what Jason parent has delivered in record breaking time is an engrossing read that will deliver you from the day to day worries about your job, health or the future of the world its self.
Yes, at times this book is light-hearted. Considering what is running amok on news channels and social media on a daily if not hourly basis, we all need a little light relief, mixed with a large dollop of adrenaline fuelled suspense. Here we get it the form of a group of co-workers trapped and running for their lives like human lab rats from a seemingly unstoppable virus.
Yes at times there are hints of Alien and Cocoon, along with a computer game feel to the story telling too. However, Parent is a dab hand at this sort of storytelling and keeps this 230 page book, on the good side of surreal and far from fantasy to keep the reader turning the pages.
This is American author Jason Parent’s (www.authorjasonparent.com) 9th book. His others include What Hides Within (2012), Seeing Evil (2015), Unseemly (2016), Where Wolves Run (2016), Wrathbone (2016), People Of The Sun (2017), A life removed (1017), They Feed (2018) and Hearing evil (2018). He has also contributed short stories to four other compilations: Bad Apples, Bad Apples 2, Bad Apples 3 and Dead Roses. Jason grew up in fall River Massachusetts and currently lives in Rhode island.
So having returned from an essential trip to the UK last week, to attend a family funeral, I must now self isolate here in Ireland. This book has turned out to be a timely read. I recommend this light but gamey and gripping Horror thriller. Therefore order it online or with mask in hand and while being socially distant at all times, head to your local book shop and pick up a copy. Then prepare to run for your life with Clara and her team and try not to have nightmares!