THE chill was palpable as I listened to the news on the World Service late the other night.
It was an item about an outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where more than 2,000 cases of the virus have been recorded in the last 10 months.
It’s reported to be the second biggest outbreak of the disease in history and, worryingly, health workers’ attempts to prevent it from spreading are being hampered by mistrust and violence in the areas they are working.
Part of the problem is that those suffering refuse to believe the disease is as virulent as it is - people showing symptoms often avoid treatment, spreading the virus further.
It’s easily spread, but despite part of the DRC being a warzone, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has deemed that while the risk of a pandemic is low, cases may well spread to neighbouring countries.
In his latest medical thriller, Miasma, author and award-winning research scientist Ken McClure runs with the worst case scenario, a threatened pandemic, and throws his Sci-Med investigator, Dr Steven Dunbar into the midst of a global plot to corrupt the WHO and unleash the haemorrhagic fever on the world.
It’s a terrifying thought. You just have remember the concern when one case of Ebola found its way to Glasgow in 2014 via a returning Scottish aid worker diagnosed with the virus at Gartnavel General Hospital.
In Miasma, McClure does what he does best, he uses his knowledge of state of the art science and weaves an intricate tapestry of science, deceit and murder that is mesmerisingly addictive.
He demystifies the technical nature of his subject matter making even the most complicated scenario accessible and dramatic.
Without giving away any spoilers, it is Dunbar’s doctor partner Tally that he sends into the firing line in the DRC in this novel, while his hero takes a back seat at points in a tale that is perfectly pitched.
In the past, McClure’s novels have proved darkly prescient, his predictions in his books coming to life in the real world a short time after publication.
It is a testament to his scientific knowledge - at least two of the ground-breaking medical developments he brings together in Miasma will leave you open-mouthed, so unlikely, yet so plausible and terrifying are they.
With an innate ability to keep the action going , McClure’s villains are always brutally invincible right up until the moment that they are not, his heroes, effortlessly painted with a truth that allows for their weaknesses to become strengths.
A real page-turner then, which just leaves one problem... the wait until Book 13.
Miasma (A Dr Steven Dunbar Thriller Book 12) by Ken McClure, Kindle Edition £4.50/Paperback £8.99 https://kenmcclure.com/