The Seneca Scourge by Carrie Rubin

The Seneca Scourge
by
Carrie Rubin

Rating:

It started with a cough and a sneeze on an airplane, but it became much more. One sick man brought more than luggage home from a long trip that began in Nairobi and ended in the coastal town of Seneca, Massachusetts.

“Did you ever think you’d be caught up in something so big?” That’s what Dr. Sydney McKnight overhears in the hallway of Boston General Hospital. They don’t know the half of it, she thinks. Sydney is an infectious disease fellow when a baffling flu pandemic strikes and threatens catastrophic losses, with no cure in sight. Doomed patients fill hospital beds while doctors and nurses scramble to treat a puzzling strain of Influenza C.

Leading the research team is the renowned Dr. Casper Jones, a new infectious disease attending physician. He may be there to help, but there’s something strange about Casper. His perfect features, impeccable attire and unusual way of speaking raise flags and the more Sydney gets to know him, the more questions she has. For one, she wants to know about the new orderly, Jackson Bryant. She has spotted Jackson talking secretively with Casper more than once. What is their relationship and why has she never seen Jackson on her shifts?

Sydney’s part-time boyfriend, Dr. Mitch Price doesn’t trust Casper either, but for different reasons.  Mitch is certain that their cooling romance is because of Casper. Maybe it is or maybe there’s just not enough spark to keep it going. They hardly have time to ponder the reason, as more and more people fall sick. But Sydney knows she can’t put Mitch off forever.

As doctors, nurses and staff rush from room to room, and more patients die, they wonder if this is just the beginning. Strange as he is, could Casper save the day?

The Seneca Scourge is a dramatic medical thriller with a quick-moving plot and an exciting science fiction twist. Author Carrie Rubin hooks the reader with the story of a deadly virus and takes it to new dimensions as she examines the ethics behind developing a cure. Sydney hits many roadblocks as she tries to understand hidden motives, strange dynamics and big secrets. And when she finally discovers the villain, it may be too late. Can the story’s sleeper heroes beat the bad guys?

Rubin tells a very good story. Her style is casual and fluid, filled with subtle humor, interesting characters and a nice dose of young professional angst. Just enough medical jargon and descriptions show how hospitals run and the politics within, an added reader interest. The story’s finish leaves some unknowns, giving the reader a bit to think about.  It’s a well-crafted debut novel.

I recommend The Seneca Scourge to thriller and science fiction readers who like to jump into exciting plots. And click here to check out Rubin’s second medical thriller, Eating Bull.

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What’s up next? Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station ElevenI just started reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. The book jacket includes the following description:   “An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.”

In the first chapter, Arthur Leander, a famous actor, suffers a heart attack during a performance of King Lear at a Toronto theater. Jeevan Chaudhary is in the audience and jumps onstage to try to save him, using his skills as an EMT-in-training, but there’s nothing he can do. Kirsten Raymonde, a child actress, stands onstage and watches in fear.  As Jeevan walks home from the theater, he gets a call from his good friend, Hua, a doctor at the city hospital.  Hua tells him to leave the city right away.  A flu pandemic is about to take over the city…

This is Mandel’s fourth novel. Here’s a short biography from her website, emilymandel.com:

EmilyStJohnMandel pic
Emily St. John Mandel – photo by Dese’Rae L. Stage

St. John’s my middle name. The books go under M.

Emily St. John Mandel is the author of four novels, most recently Station Eleven, which was a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award, and won the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award. A previous novel, The Singer’s Gun, was the 2014 winner of the Prix Mystere de la Critique in France. Her short fiction and essays have been anthologized in numerous collections, including Best American Mystery Stories 2013. She is a staff writer for The Millions. She lives in New York City with her husband.

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