CONTAINMENT: A Thriller
Published by: Atria Books
CONTAINMENT was published in hardback on January 10, 2017. It was released as a paperback on September 12, 2017. It is also available in an audio version, narrated by George Newbern.
From a former US government advisor on agroterrorism comes a ripped-from-the-headlines debut thriller about a global plot to release a deadly virus and the elite response team who must try to stop it.
When a gruesome new tick-borne virus breaks out near a major US city and the outbreak is traced to an extremist group in Southeast Asia, the race to stop a global bioterrorism conspiracy is on. Government epidemiologist Mariah Rossi must leave the safety of her lab to help fellow scientist and covert CIA agent Curt Kennedy track the disease back to its source. Their worldwide net leads them to an underground lab in the jungles of the Philippines, then to a deadly and climactic battle in coral reefs near Malaysian Borneo, and finally to London and back to America, where the virus must be contained. For fans of Michael Crichton and Richard Preston, this chilling, realistic thriller is a terrifying reminder of how vulnerable humans are to biological threats—and : in this instance, just one tick bite away from catastrophe.
"This is as real as it gets! Dr. Hank Parker knows his stuff and once you read this book you will too. Caution - it might keep you up at night.”
—Dr. Robert A. Heckert BSc, DVM, PhD, CBSP
“This is a true thriller with non-stop action and a terrifyingly realistic look at what could happen if terrorists were able to release a virus in America.”
—Scott McEwen, coauthor of American Sniper and author of Ghost Sniper
“A chilling novel that shows just how vulnerable we are to viruses and other weapons aimed not at our skyscrapers and transit systems, but at our very biological makeup.”
—Clint Emerson, author of 100 Deadly Skills: Survival Edition
“A fast-moving debut biothriller featuring a mad scientist and his icky pets… With a nice little zinger at the end, this is a satisfying tale told by an expert on bioterrorism.”
—Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2016
Parker is a science expert, giving his first novel authenticity when it comes to the terrifying potential of a man-made virus that might kill millions… if Parker had written a nonfiction book, it would be more terrifying than Richard Prestons’s The Hot Zone.”
—Booklist, November 1, 2016
“Highly reminiscent of The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton, this thriller brings you to the very edge of scientific breakthrough and psychotic genius…leaves you gasping and breathless until the very last page.”
—San Francisco Book Review
“…a first rate, and fast-paced adventure. It grabs the reader, and keeps them reading. As a first novel, Containment is outstanding entertainment.”
—The Daily News, Galveston County, TX
“In (this) debut thriller, a task force works to prevent a biological threat, released by a mad scientist in rural Pennsylvania, from spreading globally. Just how devastating is the Kandahar virus? Think mad cow disease meets Ebola.”
—The Star-Telegram, Fort Worth, TX
“(A) terrifying story, terrifying because it is so imaginable…If you love suspense and terror, this is a good selection for you.”
—Romance Reviews Today
“…Hank Parker, a former U.S. government adviser on agro-terrorism, knows what he's talking about, and his debut novel seems frighteningly plausible… You might not sleep well after reading this, but Parker's breakneck plot and down-to-earth storytelling will keep you entertained…”
—SEVEN DAYS Vermont’s Independent Voice, January 25 – February 01, 2017
“Hank Parker's gripping bioterrorist thriller, Containment, shows how deadly pathogens in the wrong hands can be far scarier and more destructive than bombs… Well-written, well-paced and sobering in its implications, Containment recalls the work of Michael Crichton and other greats of the bio-thriller genre.”
—Shelf Awareness for Readers for Friday, January 27, 2017
“Parker…knows his material. His terrifying plot lays bare a grim scenario, complete with personal and constitutional ramifications. And his characters — the lovable and the loathsome alike — are drawn with care.”
—Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 21, 2017
"Well-written, tightly plotted, and tense, the novel reflects the specialized scientific background of the author giving it authenticity and fueling the nightmarish realization that this type of terror could, indeed, happen... Written in the non-stop action style of Michael Crichton, this is thrilling reading at its entertaining best."
—Outlook by the Bay, Winter, 2017 (Victoria Duncan)
“…Parker clearly knows his stuff when it comes to what could happen if someone were to release a virus in the United States. And how possible that is. The effects go well beyond the dreadful deaths of both people and animals. The chaos Mr. Parker describes is entirely believable and chilling…”
—The Chronicle, Barton, Vermont, February 8, 2017
In Hank Parker’s words:
I had been focusing on writing non-fiction and hadn’t planned to write a novel—I was finding that the real-life stuff was compelling enough. I’d been working on an account of an underwater treasure-hunting expedition I had co-led, a project with amazing characters; quests and conflicts; struggles and outcomes that rivaled those of any fiction plot.
Then, essentially on a dare, I signed up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It was a chance to put into words a story about the hypothetical outbreak of a gruesome and deadly tick-borne virus in the heavily populated northeastern United States. The plot had been percolating in my mind for years as I worked as a researcher, professor, writer, and federal government advisor on bio- and agro-terrorism, and pondered what might happen if such an epidemic occurred. And I’m passionate about turning non-scientists on to the mysteries of science, and helping to demystify those mysteries. But writing fiction? Well, I’d never tried that before.
So in the anonymous environment of NaNoWriMo, I pledged to meet the contest’s challenge—to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. I didn’t have to show the results to anyone else—the only thing that mattered was the word count. So I could forget the internal editor and just let words flow. And flow they did, bound only by the limits of my imagination. Thirty days later I’d tallied 56,000 words, had become immersed in the plot and characters, and didn’t want to stop.
Doctor Vector drew a cup of water from a lab sink and swallowed two Tylenol. He’d come down with a bad cough and a headache, was feeling unaccountably tired, and he had this persistent itching, especially under his armpit. He’d been putting in long hours for months now and it was beginning to wear on him. Worse, he’d somehow allowed ticks to escape from the garage lab, despite all of his painstaking precautions. What had he done wrong?
He forced the second-guessing out of his mind. The past could not be undone. He had to focus on the future. His work would soon be finished and then there would be plenty of time for rest. It was coming down to the wire. Now it was time for another feeding, to fatten up his charges, to prepare them to go into battle as healthy and well-fed as possible. A wry, apt expression popped into his head: An army marches on its stomach.
And it was a war, he reminded himself.
He looked around his new lab, deep inside an abandoned warehouse in South Philly. Roomy enough, but kind of cobbled-together compared with his old lab by the farm house. Still, he couldn’t complain. With the help of those idiot goons, he’d quickly cleared out the old lab and resurrected a new one here. Too quickly, in his opinion. But he’d had to move fast or see the destruction of his research.
He placed the empty water glass in the sink, but as soon as the glass thunked against the sink’s steel basin, Doctor Vector felt the itch under his arm yet again and froze. His heart began bucking wildly in his chest. A thin film of sweat broke across his brow. The lab around him dropped away as his mind connected the dots of the past few days. Headache. Coughing. And this itch—this infernal itch. He tore off his lab coat, pulled his t-shirt over his head, and twisted the skin of his armpit closer to his face.
Idiot! he screamed silently at himself. Another mistake, made in haste. In his rush to clear out the garage lab he’d let down his guard, had failed to rigorously follow the careful protocols he swore by. And now here was a tiny tick, embedded in his skin, swollen with his blood.
How had it happened? he asked himself, knowing already that it didn’t really matter. Had he neglected to count every tick during the transfer, including those that were in the process of feeding? Had he failed to securely cap a container? Had he somehow missed a newly hatched larva or just-molted nymph? But he knew it made no difference how old the tick was. At any age it would be a teeming reservoir of Kandahar virus, which was now undoubtedly in his system, coursing through his bloodstream, making its way into his liver, his kidneys, his heart, his brain. The worst symptoms would show up soon. The cough and headache he had now were nothing compared to losing his mind and bleeding out. Did this also mean sure failure of the mission?