Not since Pandemic have we seen a thriller like this from bestselling author Daniel Kalla: The plague has hit Italy. Can Dr. Alana Vaughn find the source in time to save the world?
No person is left unscathed, no family untouched. Death grows insatiable.
Alana Vaughn, an infectious diseases expert with NATO, is urgently summoned to Genoa by an ex-lover to examine a critically ill patient. She’s stunned to discover that the illness is a recurrence of the Black Death. Alana soon suspects bioterrorism, but her WHO counterpart, Byron Menke, disagrees. In their desperate hunt to track down Patient Zero, they stumble across an 800-year-old monastery and a medieval journal that might hold the secret to the present-day outbreak. With the lethal disease spreading fast and no end in sight, it’s a race against time to uncover the truth before millions die.
|Publisher:||Simon & Schuster|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Daniel Kalla is the international bestselling author of We All Fall Down, Pandemic, Resistance, Rage Therapy, Blood Lies, Cold Plague, and Of Flesh and Blood. His books have been translated into eleven languages, and two novels have been optioned for film. Kalla practices emergency medicine in Vancouver, British Columbia. Visit Daniel at DanielKalla.com or follow him on Twitter @DanielKalla.
Read an Excerpt
We All Fall Down
There he is again. Watching, always watching. Doesn’t the old bastard have anything better to do? Vittoria Fornero wonders as she rolls up the blueprint and tucks it under her arm.
The little monk has shown up at the site every day since the first crew arrived to tear down the old monastery. As always, he’s wearing a traditional black Benedictine habit with the hood down, exposing a wispy ring of white hair around his otherwise bald scalp. Every morning at about nine o’clock or so, he appears with a rusty fold-up chair held under one arm and a black satchel worn over the other. Sometimes he sips from a thermos or reads from a well-thumbed leather prayer book. But usually, like now, he just sits near the edge of the excavation pit and watches like a pigeon perched on a building’s eave.
Most of the time the monk blends into the scenery along with the site’s other fixtures such as the giant yellow diggers, piles of lumber, and mounds of rubble and rock. But this morning Vittoria has no tolerance for the uninvited spectator.
“Se n’è andata!” Vittoria calls out to him, as she bundles her flimsy windbreaker tighter to fight off another vicious chill. “Your relic, she is gone, old man, gone. And the funeral is over!”
In truth, Vittoria can still see the ancient brick and stone monastery in her mind’s eye: a simple Romanesque structure that was already crumbling on the south side of the cloister where part of the attached arcade’s roof had collapsed years before. Dilapidated as the monastery was, Vittoria had appreciated its decrepit charm. And even though she is an unrepentant atheist, she carries enough childhood memories of intimidating nuns to feel a bit uneasy over her role in having leveled the ancient house of worship.
The old monk responds to Vittoria’s calculated belligerence with a friendly wave, making her question his hearing as much as she already does his sanity. Regardless, Vittoria isn’t about to be appeased; not this morning, not after he has already compounded her workload and aggravated her piercing headache.
Vittoria wasted fifteen minutes in the cramped overheated trailer that passed for her office trying to calm one of the workers, a pimply-faced apprentice named Emilio.
“Listen to me, Emilio!” Vittoria cut him off in midsentence, unable to listen to another moment of his alarmism. “That freeloading monk is bitter about losing the roof over his head! Nothing more.”
“But, Vittoria,” Emilio muttered. “Brother Silvio . . . he says it’s not just the monastery.”
“Brother Silvio, he says that the monastery . . . it is built on hallowed ground.”
“To a monk, maybe. But to us it’s just a construction site. No different from any other.” Although, she silently conceded, the crypt below the monastery had come as a surprise. The excavators had not expected to unearth such a complex cellar, with its convoluted network of passages. And all those tiny bones. When Vittoria had first glimpsed them, she instinctively thought of her own two children. But she was in no mood to discuss medieval architecture.
“What about Yas?” Emilio asked.
“What about him?” Vittoria demanded, sounding more defensive than she intended.
“The day before last, Yas wasn’t feeling so good,” he said. “And then yesterday he didn’t show up. I haven’t seen him since.”
“So what? He’s probably just hungover.”
“Yas doesn’t drink. And he’s not answering my texts or calls. Brother Silvio says—”
“Enough, Emilio! For the love of God!” Vittoria held up her hands. “Not another word! Or you’ll end up on the docks looking for work scrubbing the fishing boats. Just like where Yas will soon find himself!”
Vittoria digs her thumbs into her temples, trying to squeeze away the throb along with the memory of her conversation with the panicky boy. She wishes Emilio hadn’t mentioned Yas.
Her legs tremble and another chill overcomes her. The ecstatic TV weatherwoman promised record temperatures for Genoa this morning. The bright April sun has already risen high over the rolling hills above the city, where the site is nestled, but Vittoria doesn’t seem to benefit from its warmth.
Maria warned her that she was too sick to work. Of course, Maria was like that, keeping their twins home at the first sniffle. Vittoria can’t help but smile to herself. Life hasn’t always been easy for two of them, living together in a city as traditional as Genoa, but Maria is still the best thing to have ever happened to her. And, as usual, Maria was right. Vittoria can’t remember ever feeling worse. Her breathing is inexplicably heavy. Each step is an effort. Her head is on fire. But it’s her armpit that bothers her most. The bluish lump under it has swollen to the size of a robin’s egg and throbs like a toothache. Even the light contact against her overalls is agonizing.
But Vittoria hasn’t missed a day’s work in twenty years. She’s certainly not about to take time off now, not when the crew is behind schedule and the boss is so worried over the financing. Her first order of business today is to permanently rid the site of this interloping monk before he scares other workers and puts them further behind. She should have had the security guards deal with him weeks ago, but now she will just have to do it herself. She squares her shoulders and marches toward Brother Silvio.
As she reaches close enough to inhale a whiff of his coffee, Vittoria has to pause to catch her breath. An invisible flame ignites her innards from toes to scalp. Her knees tremble so violently she half expects them to clatter.
The old monk tightens the cap on his thermos and leans forward in his chair. His eyes twinkle. “What is wrong, my dear?” he asks. “Can I be of assistance?”
“Yes! You can get the hell off my—” A sudden coughing fit silences her.
Vittoria feels phlegm climbing up her windpipe and shoots a hand to her mouth. For a moment or two, she can’t breathe at all. When the hacking finally subsides, she senses sticky warmth in her grip. Panic seizes her, even before she opens her palm and sees the wad of congealed blood.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
We All Fall Down is a suspenseful novel about a modern-day plague which closely resembles the Black Death which occurred 800 years ago. The author, Daniel Kalla MD, is an emergency room physician from Vancouver BC. Dr Alana Vaughn, a doctor with the NATO infectious diseases department arrives in Genoa, Italy to investigate the sudden critical illness of a woman who was working at a construction site where an ancient monastery had been demolished. The contagion soon claims several more victims, thereby baffling the medical experts. The plague then mysteriously spreads to Naples and Rome, leaving the medics at a loss to determine what or who is the carrier of this contagious atrocity. Time being of the essence, the doctors from NATO and the World Health Organization rush to solve the mystery of where the plague started and how it is spread. If you enjoy tense medical drama, this novel is for you. Thank you to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Dr Alana Vaughn, working with NATO, is summoned to Genoa, Italy by her former lover and WHO partner Nico to help him with what appears to be a case of bubonic plague. This is the disease that decimated Europe in the mid 1300s but now only produces a handful of cases each year primarily in Africa. This new outbreak of the disease quickly spreads and is unusual in the speed that symptoms develop and rapidly lead to death. Alana and Nico race to find the cause. Did the first patient bring it back from Africa? Could terrorism be involved? What does the new development on the site of an ancient monastery have to do with it? Does the old priest know something? How is the Muslim man involved? I love medical mysteries and this one did not disappoint. As the cases spread beyond Genoa, WHO and NATO work together with Italian authorities to discover what, or who, caused this outbreak and try to get it rapidly under control. The book demonstrates the techniques they use to solve this mystery much as any detective solves his crimes. Of course there is a litte romance thrown to keep things human. The book moves rapidly and comes to a conclusion I found surprising but believable. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more from this author. I wish to thank Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read an advance copy of this book. This review is my honest opinion and was not swayed by getting the book for free.