That’s my first reaction to Pandemia, the riveting blockbuster published by Franck Thilliez in 2016. It’s about nasty types who want to kill as many people as possible by spreading contagious disease throughout the world, starting with Paris. Do such types exist? Sure they do, but thankfully not so far with the degree of scientific expertise and organization imagined by Thilliez. Thilliez’ scenario is scary, not because it’s completely believable, but because a less extreme version is eminently possible. As the population of the planet increases there are bound to be more and more murderous lunatics among us. Some of them will be scientists or have other relevant capabilities. However small a percentage they may be of the total, the internet will make it easy for them to cooperate.
Thilliez has done a thorough job of research and writes convincingly about the scientific/medical side of the plot and the various laboratories and personnel in France and the world who deal with such matters. At over 600 pages, he has plenty of space to explain how easily a contagious disease can be spread and all the unfortunate consequences, some of which we have seen in the past.
Doomsday is narrowly averted by outstanding work and cooperation among the good guys, including the police in France, Poland, and Brazil and technicians and experts at the Pasteur Institute. The harmonious cooperation he envisions among both attackers and defenders of society is striking, and may have more to do with the author’s positive personality than with reality.
Some of the most important discoveries in the race to save lives are made by a young microbiologist who follows clues that lead her far from her lab bench, a nice touch in a plot in which the bad guys are monsters and the good guys not only all work efficiently together, they also notice important details, and, less convincingly, nobody makes a stupid mistake.