"Breathless thrills and pace."--Lee Child
"An exciting tour de force."--Michael Palmer
"Fans of Michael Crichton will love this heart-pounding thriller." --Joseph Finder
In a Washington, D.C. research lab, a brilliant scientist is attacked by his own test subjects. At Columbia University, a talented biochemist is lured out of her apartment and never seen again. In the Justice Department's new Bioethics Committee, agent Les Mahler sees a sinister pattern emerging. . .
Zoe Kincaid is a petite college student whose rare genetic makeup may hold the key to a powerful medical breakthrough. When she is kidnapped, the very thing mankind has wanted since the dawn of time threatens to unleash our final destruction.
"A crackling good read. . .terrific and totally unexpected."--Michael Palmer
"A twisting, suspenseful thriller." --William Landay
Thursday, March 7
The echo down the hallway didn’t surprise him. Not at
first. The old industrial warehouse creaked whenever
Eli stayed late to work in his lab. His lab: he could
say that finally, after two decades of toiling away in
this windowless steel complex, where his most important
colleagues were the half dozen chimpanzees in
cages lining the side wall. They were the first to try
whatever new multimillion-dollar drug was being developed
for human use by the research team at Panex
Pharmaceuticals—the team that was now officially led
by Eli himself.
He was peering through his microscope, reveling in
his recent promotion, when the faint echo down the
hall assumed the distinctive pattern of footsteps. Usually
the researchers wore sneakers, so their movements
were announced by squeaks of rubber against the floor.
But now the rhythmic slap of a man’s dress shoes
struck the ground, drawing closer.
Eli glanced up with a frown. He’d thought he was
alone—it was 10:15 P.M. on a Thursday after all. Everyone
else had left hours ago. Even the security guard
went home at ten o’clock.
“Hello?” he called. Across the room most of the
chimps were sleeping, but an elder one with a crown of
silvery fur perked up with a grunt, curling his massive
finger around the wire of his cage.
“Not you, Jerry,” Eli muttered. He had affectionate
names for all the chimps—Jerry and Elaine shared a
cage, next to George and Kramer, Larry and Newman—
even though he knew theoretically not to get attached
to animals who sometimes had to suffer and die
for the sake of the research.
The footsteps were louder now, nearly encroaching
on the lab.
Eli slid off the stool and nervously tore off his latex
“Who’s there?” he called.
A lean older man crossed into the doorway. He wore
wire-rimmed spectacles and an elegant gray suit that
matched the color of his thinning hair. His alert eyes lit
up at Eli as if in recognition, though Eli was sure he’d
never seen him before. His face was all edges: a pointy
nose, jutting chin, bony cheeks. A leather briefcase
hung off his left shoulder, and he was double-fisting
crystal champagne flutes, each one filled with bubbly
golden liquid. One glance at his sharp looks told Eli
that this man was shrewd, dignified, respected. He was
Eli felt himself relax as his curiosity piqued. Any
brief worry about a trespasser vanished. In any case,
Eli cut an imposing six-foot-three figure, albeit more
bulk than brawn. He could take care of himself. The
man smiled at him.
“Dr. Eliot Shipley?”
He nodded. “Just Eli. And you’re . . . ?”
“Mr. G. I’m on the board at Panex. We’re all very
excited that you’ve been promoted to head of R&D.”
He walked toward Eli and extended the champagne
flute in his right hand. “At our dinner earlier tonight,
the board agreed you deserve to be congratulated in
person, so I came to surprise you with a little toast on
their behalf. We heard you usually stay late.”
Eli took the fancy glass, grinning. He ran a hand
through what remained of his sparse blond hair—which,
at age sixty-seven, wasn’t much. It was about time the
corporate bigwigs sat up and took notice of him, after
years of his toiling in practical obscurity to help put the
cheapest, most effective drugs on the market for their
bottom line. Sometimes too cheaply produced, in Eli’s
opinion, though to the execs there was no such thing,
so he did as he was told.
“Wow,” he said. “I’m flattered. You didn’t have to—”
The man lifted his own champagne. “Please. The
pleasure is mine. Cheers.”
They clinked glasses and drank. Eli recognized the
sweet, smooth flavor. It was the good stuff, Dom
Pérignon, the kind he bought his wife last year for their
“Delicious.” He took a few more hearty sips to show
A strangely satisfied smile tugged at the man’s lips.
“You’ve done so much, it’s only fitting that you finish
“Oh, I’m not planning to retire anytime soon.”
The man was still smiling that same odd way, in almost
A vague uneasiness settled over Eli. “In fact,” he
added, “I’d rather die than ever retire.”
The man’s smile widened ever so slightly. “I’m glad
to hear that.”
There was nothing unfriendly about the way he said
it, yet Eli felt a chill of hostility as sure as if he’d delivered
Eli lifted his leg to take a step back—and that’s when
he noticed the sudden heaviness in his foot. Moving it
was like trying to uproot a tree. He uttered a little gasp;
fear shot through him.
“What’s happening?” he demanded. Then, as if
without permission, his fingers loosened around his
glass. It slid through his grip and shattered at his feet,
splashing the remaining drops of champagne on his
white coat. He stared from his weakening hand to the
man, terrified. “Who are you?”
“I told you,” the man said calmly. “You can call me
He racked his brain trying to remember the names
of the company’s board members—was there anyone
whose last name started with G?—but Panex had been
acquired by a major conglomerate, and the management
at the highest levels had never interacted with