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By Ken McClure
Charnwood Large Print, (2003)
ISBN: 1-84395-019-7
Genre: Medical Thriller

Reviewed by Herbert White - May 27, 2005

Steven Dunbar is a member of the Sci-Med Directorate whose job is to investigate medical mysteries. In this case he is assigned to investigate a deadly outbreak in which the victims are stricken with an Ebola like virus, but in which many of the victims seem to have no obvious relationship with the primary carrier. They are wildcards, and understanding how they became infected is vital if the outbreak is to be contained. Dunbar's job is to figure out how these wildcards became infected and to determine what links all the victims together. At the same time, he is charged with helping to contain the deadly outbreak. Wildcard is a chilling medical thriller by Ken McClure, and one which will keep you on the edge of your seat as Dunbar discovers the truth behind this deadly outbreak.

The outbreak starts innocently enough. Humphrey James Barclay was flying to London from Ndanga in Central Africa, when he began to feel unwell. By the time the flight landed, he was extruding blood from various orifices. At first glance, based on his recent visit to Africa and his symptoms, the medical establishment surmises that he has Ebola. Being highly contagious, everyone that was on that plane with him may have been infected! So it is not unexpected when several of his fellow travelers fall victim to the deadly virus. What is unexpect is the death of Ann Danby from the virus. A young woman with no apparent association with anyone that was on Barclay's flight, Danby's death presents Dunbar with an unwanted puzzle. As events transpire, she is but the first of many unrelated wildcards, from throughout England, who fall victim to the rampaging illness. It falls to Steven Dunbar to lead the investigation into what seems to be an expanding epidemic, but one which he is certain that is not caused by Ebola. Dunbar is determined to discover how all these wildcard cases are related, and what is the real source of the infection that kills most of its victims. It is a race against time and Dunbar knows that if he fails, everyone in the United Kingdom, and the world, may be in danger from this horrific, and deadly virus.

Wildcard is an all too believable story. McClure is one of the best writers of medical thrillers, and Wildcard proves why. The story is gripping, the characters are true to life, and the plot is filled with just enough twists to keep you guessing till the very end - when McClure delivers a satisfying and very unexpected ending to this story. The current, ongoing Ebola outbreak in Angola and the Congo highlight the believability of this story and the dangers faced by contagious illness. This is especially true in a world in which an infected individual can travel halfway around the world in a matter of hours, infecting hundreds if not thousands before even knowing that he is sick. If you consider the possibility of someone doing this on purpose - well, it is scary and all too possible! Wildcard is an excellent book and a must read for any fan of the medical thriller genre.

Wildcard can be purchased directly from Ulverscroft, the parent company of Charnwood Large Print.

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