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The First Horseman


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About the Author

John Case is the pseudonym for the husband and wife writing team of Jim and Carolyn Hougan, both published authors in their own right. They live near Washington, DC. For many years Jim Hougan has been a journalist specialising in intelligence issues. He has published widely in this field and has made several acclaimed documentaries for US programmes including 60 Minutes.


Yet another raging virus thriller, this one concerns a North Korean village massacred by the military when a disease erupts there that killed millions a half-century ago. Case's The Genesis Code, a New York Times best seller, has been optioned by Universal Pictures.

Recent reports that the 1918 flu virus, source of history's most lethal pandemic, might be preserved inside the bodies of five Norwegian miners buried beneath the permafrost on the remote Arctic island of Spitsbergen make this novel especially timely. Moving in dated chapters through the spring into the summer months of 1998, this tense thriller turns that story into a "secular apocalypse," which begins when a North Korean medical officer flees across the DMZ to report that his isolated village was first devastated by a strange sickness, then destroyed and completely buried by the military. A team of American microbiologists, whose application to exhume the Spitsbergen bodies has been denied, suddenly finds its expedition funded by a foundation from which they hadn't even sought money. Frank Daly, a Washington Post reporter scheduled to join the expedition, is grounded in Archangel, and when he meets the icebreaker Rex Mundi on its return to Norway, he finds the pier closed and no one from the expedition willing to talk to him‘a sure incentive for any true reporter to pursue the story to the death, which Daly very nearly does. Although the setup is in some ways more gripping than the action payoff of the novel's second half, pseudonymous D.C. reporter Case (The Gemini Code) breathes excitement into his topical story. Especially memorable is the microwave death of one character, leaving behind just a tiny handful of soot. (Aug.)

"Expertly researched and chillingly related - terrifying - the sort of thriller which defies you to look away" * Express on Sunday *

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