x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Spiral: A race against time to ward off biological warfare

Paul McEuen's debut is a tightly plotted and accessible scientific thriller about a deadly pathogen resurfacing decades after being stolen from a lab.

The subject of highly respected scientists channelling their expertise into a rip-roaring thriller is a well-trodden route to publishing success. Indeed, as an esteemed authority on nanotechnology, Paul McEuen seems to possess the credentials to prosper in this genre.

His debut concerns a highly contagious fungal disease, created as a doomsday device by the Japanese during the Second World War. Seemingly eradicated in an American nuclear attack, a vial of the deadly pathogen resurfaces 60 years later after being stolen from the laboratory of an ageing Nobel Prize winner by Chinese ultranationalists.

We're then dealt a traditional race against time to halt impending apocalypse, with a plucky scientist striving against a sadistic Asian female agent and a billionaire industrialist with a lust for world domination.

Despite the somewhat hackneyed characters and plot machinations, McEuen does keep the story moving forward at a decent pace, and also makes complicated scientific notions accessible to the layman.

Just as this bodes well for McEuen's chances of a lengthy literary career, such is the nature of his writing that it almost goes without saying that Hollywood producers have already optioned the movie rights to Spiral.