It's a tribute to Earl Emerson's narrative skill that he manages to make this implausible medical mystery not only believable but also compelling. When fire chief Jim Swopes traces the unknown disease that's wiped out half his department in less than a week to a truck crash on a western Washington highway, he knows his days are numbered--like the other victims, all of whom died, he has just seven days to live unless he can find an antidote to a chemical poison no one else believes exists. Helped by a beautiful doctor whose comatose sister drove one of the trucks in the crash, he traces the poison to a biotech firm with nothing to lose and everything to gain by letting the clock run out. But until it does, this tightly plotted race-against-time thriller will keep you riveted. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
Seattle firefighter Jim Swope-the irresistible protagonist of this latest high-octane thriller from the author of the Thomas Black detective series-is, in his own words, "destined for a jail cell, a straitjacket, or more likely, to end up dancing the funky chicken in a fusillade of bullets." This divorced, womanizing father of two has just realized he has exactly six days to figure out the nature of the mysterious ailment that's been killing off his North Bend Fire and Rescue colleagues-and is about to fell him, too. It all started several months ago, when he and other firefighters reported to the scene of a highway accident. It was here that Swope met emotionally unstable trucker Holly Riggs, a woman who became his girlfriend, then his ex-girlfriend, then his stalker. When Holly's sister, Stephanie, finds her in a coma months after the accident, she figures it was a suicide attempt. Only when Jim's colleagues also fall into comas does Jim realize that they were all poisoned at the scene of the accident. Each victim has only a week to live from the day his symptoms begin, and Jim already has trembling hands and a headache. He and Stephanie team up to uncover a tangled web of corporate corruption extending far beyond the Pacific Northwest, but centering on a nearby "hazmat" facility. Emerson, a veteran Seattle firefighter, infuses the firehouse scenes with expert detail, but it's the full-bodied characterization and wry humor of "mad dog" Swope that really sizzle. Readers who like a little hot sauce with their mystery will snatch this up.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.