The Black Death occurring in Europe around the years 1346-1356 is undoubtedly the worst pandemic recorded. It is estimated that moving from China through Europe it was the cause of about 75-200 million people being killed before it faded. Theories of what caused it tend towards rats carrying it from ships and to land as well as filthy conditions prevalent in a world without the knowledge of sanitation present today. Due to advances in medicine and preventive methods fears of a plague such as the Black Death have diminished. The conditions causing it have come under control.
The Anthrax Protocol is a very well constructed novel outlining the possibility of a cause not currently investigated that could release another pandemic on mankind. An archaeological dig in Mexico comes upon the discovery of the tomb of Montezuma, ancient emperor of the Aztecs. The tomb has been sealed during the centuries since it became the burial site for Montezuma. Once opened, an ancient strain of Anthrax kills most of the members of the archaeological team before they understand what has happened.
One by one the team suffers from bleeding from the eyes and ears before falling to a painful death. They advise their home office in Austin Texas as well as the CDC in Atlanta of what has happened. A young archaeologist is sent from Austin, meeting with a team from Atlanta, led by Dr. Mason Williams, to close up the tomb and limit the spread of the disease before it becomes widespread.
At the same time, an army officer from Fort Detrick sends a team to secure samples of the anthrax for use as a biological military weapon. The three teams converge, with Williams and the archaeologist attempting to bottle up the plague and the military team ordered to exert every effort to get hold of the Anthrax. With them is a Mayan boy who seemingly is immune to the disease and comes from a village which includes others with demonstrated immunity.
Thompson, in a very ordered manner, quite logically describes how the disease escapes from the site in spite of extreme precautions, moves into Mexico City, than to the U.S. and other cities in the world. The methods utilized in developing a cure and a vaccine to prevent it are described, allowing the reader to follow what, if actually happening, would be a major medical accomplishment.
Thompson’s style is to keep the reader completely involved with the introduction and spread of the disease, showing the possibility of a later day black plague overwhelming mankind. And to set the stage for a possible sequel, there is a love affair developing between Williams and the archaeologist who just happens to be quite attractive. Very well done.
2/16 Paul Lane
THE ANTHRAX PROTOCOL by James Thompson. Pinnacle (February 23, 2016). ISBN 978-0786037308. 4169p.