Germ by Robert Liparulo
Just finished this book. It took awhile for two reasons: 1) It’s almost 600 pages in mass market paperback, and 2) I lost interest about five chapters before it ended.
Germ begins with a wild gun-blazing car chase in Atlanta, Georgia. CDC agent Julia Matheson is racing to track down an informant who wants to report bioterrorism. The informant and Julia’s partner are attacked by assassins, and just when you might think things are slowing down, Liparulo ramps up the action again. With the help of a trauma surgeon she meets in the emergency room, Julia uncovers a deadly virus that seems to target specific victims. A seemingly invincible assassin is always one step behind her, and a conspiracy leaves her without any support from her agency. It’s a tightly wound race against time. There’s a reason Thomas Nelson labels it “White Knuckle Intensity.”
I like Liparulo. His action sequences are breathtaking, and he has a particular knack for blending seemingly disparate concepts into a seamless story. Comes a Horsemen, one of his previous novels, blends Norse mythology, apocalyptic traditions, and the experiences people who have died, gone to hell, and been revived. Still not sure how he did it, but it was a great read.
With Germ, maybe I saw the ending coming. Maybe it was the chapter focused on traveling that did it. I don’t know exactly why, but it felt like Liparulo abruptly put the brakes on about 5 chapters before the end. After such a breathless pace for nearly 600 pages, the sudden slowdown threw me for a loop. I put the book down and said, “Huh?” I didn’t pick it up again for two or three days, and when I did, I had to crawl through three chapters before I got interested again. And then it was all over.
Liparulo is a great writer. He kept me glued to the page for almost 500 pages without a blink. Not just anyone could get me that interested in a virus that liquefies your internal organs. He’s all about plot and concept, not characters, and it works for him. Occasionally the technical details would teeter on the edge of boring, but he always rescued me with another car chase. And now that I think about it, I have a feeling that the grinding halt might have been meant to give the reader a rest before the wild rollercoaster ending. I definitely caught myself holding my breath occasionally.
If you want a good thriller to read, Germ will definitely deliver. I just hope you don’t mind being antisocial for a few days while you try to finish all 600-pages.