Voss, Louise & Edwards, Mark - 'All Fall Down'
This is the second Kate Maddox thriller by Louise Voss and Mark Edwards, sequel to last year's CATCH YOUR DEATH.
Kate is an unlikely action hero, a mum and a scientist devoted to finding a vaccine for the Watoto virus which killed her parents. In CATCH YOUR DEATH, Kate faced down the bioterrorist Clive Gaunt, almost losing her son Jack to his artificial Pandora virus in the process. She's still in therapy and attempting to rebuild her life in Oxford.
Now a mutation of the Watoto virus has been unleashed in LA. Worse, a bomb destroys the San Diego hotel hosting a conference of the world's top virologists. It's clear the two events are connected.
MI6 officer Jason Harley is sent to co-opt the unwilling Kate into the group researching the virus, nicknamed the Indian Flu by the media. She is flown from England to a secret lab in the Sequoia National Park, where she is teamed up with the few remaining virologists led by arrogant Professor Glenn Kolosine. Kolosine hopes that Kate's immunity to Watoto, rather than her expertise, holds the key to finding a cure:
"Not because of your "skills" - he waggled two fingers in the air - "but because I want your antibodies. I want your blood".
Kate's partner Paul is left kicking his heels in a motel. Paul has unfinished business in the States, having lost his twin Stephen in CATCH YOUR DEATH and sworn to track down the man he holds responsible, Charles Mangold. Until now, Paul's criminal record has prevented him entering the US. He slips away from his escorts and begins a man-hunt.
Kate's young son Jack is sent to stay with his father in Dallas, but has plans of his own.
Meanwhile, Watoto takes hold. In days, the death toll has reached tens of thousands and LA has been quarantined. Can Kate's family ever be reunited, or will they be separated until the end of the world, which seems imminent?
As a thriller, ALL FALL DOWN is entertainingly cartoonish rather than gritty, piling peril on top of peril until it's frankly amazing that anybody could crawl out from under all those perils: killer virus, bomb, psychopaths, society falling apart, conspiracies, kidnapping, murder, evil scientists. They've probably even been mis-sold PPI without realising it.
Gentler readers should be warned to expect sex and violence - at the same time - but apart from that it's all good, clean, nail-biting fun. Kate and Paul are engaging heroes, dealing with overwhelming dangers with considerable aplomb and not a little bit of luck.
It looks like there may be more in the series - I look forward to seeing what is left to throw at the Maddoxes.
Rich Westwood, England