Review of The End of October – Lawrence Wright

Posted: October 27, 2020 in action
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race-against-time thriller, as one man must find the origin and cure for a new killer virus that has brought the world to its knees.

At an internment camp in Indonesia, forty-seven people are pronounced dead with a mysterious fever. When Dr Henry Parsons – microbiologist and epidemiologist – travels there on behalf of the World Health Organization to investigate, what he finds will soon have staggering repercussions across the globe: an infected man is on his way to join the millions of worshippers in the annual Hajj to Mecca.

As international tensions rise and governments enforce unprecedented measures, Henry finds himself in a race against time to track the source and find a cure – before it’s too late . .

The End of October

Lawrence Wright

Bantam Press

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan Butterworth

Dr Henry Parsons is an unlikely hero – small, skinny, uses a cane to walk – but incredibly smart and one of the world’s leading microbiologists and epidemiologists.  He is asked by the World Health Organization to travel to Indonesia investigate an outbreak of an illness at a refugee camp.  It is a virus he’s never seen before and the medical community have no idea how to treat it. 

Despite the efforts to contain it, the virus spreads and infects worshippers in the annual Hajj to Mecca.  The Saudi government quickly implement a lockdown of the country to pre vent spread of the virus but are unsuccessful.  The virus quickly spreads worldwide, overwhelming hospitals everywhere.  There are heightened tensions in the Middle East and soon the world is dealing with a pandemic and a war.

The plot has various threads – Henry’s, his wife Jill, a CIA policy maker, an investigative journalist….. – and they are all tightly wound together, with the story moving along quickly.  There is lot going on but as the story progresses things become clearer.  We learn more about Henry’s past and are introduced to a potential bad guy/villain.  I was convinced of the source of the pathogen half way through but wow……  I did not see that end coming!

The book starts off being scarily true to real life events but countries pulled apart and stood alone instead of working together  to  find a cure, which thankfully is not happening in real life.  The American government is very lifelike and the fictional scenario is very true to real life, making me wonder if the author is secretly a time traveller.  I skimmed the science parts but now have a better understanding than I ever wanted to of viruses and pandemics.

This book can be disturbing but it’s a fantastic read.  Pick it up now.

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