In this gripping debut thriller from James M. Tabor, a brilliant and beautiful scientist and a mysterious special ops soldier must lead a team deep into the Earth on a desperate hunt for the cure to a deadly epidemic.
When she was unjustly fired from a clandestine government laboratory, microbiologist Hallie Leland swore she would never look back. But she can’t ignore an urgent summons from the White House to reenter the realm of cutting-edge science and dangerous secrets.
“Potentially the worst threat since Pearl Harbor” is how the president describes a mysterious epidemic killing American soldiers in Afghanistan—and now poised for outbreak in the States and beyond. Millions will die unless Hallie and a hastily mobilized team can recover the ultrarare organism needed to create a new antibiotic. The good news is that Hallie knows more about the organism than anyone else on the planet. The bad news is that it can be found only at the bottom of Earth’s deepest cave.
Hallie’s team is capable—especially the mysterious Wil Bowman, who knows as much about high-tech weaponry as he does about microbiology—but the challenge appears insurmountable. Before even reaching the supercave, they must traverse a forbidding Mexican jungle populated by warring cartels, Federales, and murderous locals. Only then can they confront the cave’s flooded tunnels, lakes of acid, bottomless chasms, and mind-warping blackness. But the deadliest enemies are hiding in plain sight: a powerful traitor high in the Washington ranks and a cunning assassin deep underground, determined to turn Hallie’s mission into a journey of no return.
The award-winning and bestselling author of two nonfiction books about adventure and exploration, James M. Tabor now plunges readers into the harrowing subterranean world of supercaves—and even deeper, into a race-with-the-devil thriller that pits one woman against a lethal epidemic and a murderous conspiracy.
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A Letter from Author James M. Tabor
If I had to sum up The Deep Zone’s protagonist in two words, they would be “beautiful” and “indomitable.” How do you name someone like that? Serendipity works in strange ways. Long before I wrote The Deep Zone, I was sitting on a stool next to Emmy Lou Harris in a bar where she was playing and I was working. On her lap she held a child. She said, “This is my daughter, Hallie. Hallie, this is Jim.”
“Hello, Hallie,” I said. “I love that name. It was my mother’s name, too.”
“That’s nice,” Hallie said. She was about five and radiated the same heavenly, ethereal beauty that marked her mother’s music.
“Would you mind keeping Hallie company while I do the next set?” Emmy Lou asked.
“My pleasure,” I said. “Is it okay if Hallie has a Coke?”
“Orange juice, please,” Emmy Lou said, and OJ it was.
Emmy Lou led off with “Queen of the Silver Dollar,” which always made me want to cry. Hallie and I played a game with straws. That was the extent of my relationship with Emmy Lou Harris and the beautiful Hallie. But such things stay with you, especially if a couple of months later you see Emmy Lou on the cover of TIME.
A few years after playing straw games with Hallie while her mother sang songs that made even hard saloonists weep, I was a cop on the streets of Washington, D.C. My commanding officer was Lt. Joyce Leland, as remarkable—and indomitable—a woman as any I ever met. Proof: at a time when there were few women cops, let alone commanders, she retired as Deputy Chief Joyce Leland.
Fast forward some decades to an author in search of the right name for his beautiful, indomitable heroine. There it was: Hallie Leland. Thank you, serendipity.About the Author:
James M. Tabor is the nationally bestselling author of Blind Descent and Forever on the Mountain and a winner of the O. Henry Award for short fiction. A former Washington, D.C., police officer and a lifelong adventure enthusiast, Tabor has written for Time, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Outside magazine, where he was a contributing editor. He wrote and hosted the PBS series The Great Outdoors and was co-creator and executive producer of the History Channel’s Journey to the Center of the World. He lives in Vermont, where he is at work on his next novel.
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