Science Makes a Great Mystery

Today I visit with J.L. Greger a fellow novelist and member of the Public Safety Writers Association. I’m sure you’ll find her new novel intriguing. Enjoy!reduced flu

Do you realize how many mystery and thriller writers have science backgrounds? Consider Arthur Conan Doyle (physician), Agatha Christie (apothecaries’ assistant during World War I) Michael Crichton (physician by training), Kathy Reichs (forensic anthropologist), and Robin Cook ( physician). Thus, it’s not surprising as a retired biology professor from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I write mystery/suspense novels with tidbits of science.

Scientists, especially physicians, write mysteries and thrillers for several reasons: 1. Science is a way to add intriguing bits of reality to fiction. 2. Nothing is scarier than a disease which resists known medical treatments. 3. Finding a cure for a new disease or making a vaccine against a new virus is an example of problem solving. That’s pretty similar to solving a fictional mystery but with higher consequences. 4. The stress of medical emergencies bring out the best and worst in real or fictional characters.

Let me tell you how science is integral to the plot of my new thriller: In The Flu Is Coming, a new type of flu — the Philippine flu — kills nearly half of the residents in an upscale, gated community in less than a week. Those who survive become virtual prisoners in their homes when a quarantine is imposed. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recruits Sara Almquist, a resident of the community and a scientist, to apply her skills as an epidemiologist to find ways to limit the spread of the epidemic. As she pries into her neighbors’ lives, she finds promising scientific clues. Unfortunately, she also learns too much about several of them and violence ensues when they try to escape the quarantine.

The flu I describe in my thriller could happen.

CDC and the World Health Organization are constantly watching for emerging flu viruses, fearing one will emerge with the virulence of the virus that caused the flu pandemic of 1918. Did you know: One-third of the world’s population was infected with that virus and 50 million died worldwide?

All it would take for another flu pandemic are small mutations in avian or swine flu viruses (not previously occurring in humans) that allowed them to be transmitted among humans. In The Flu Is Coming, those mutations occurred in the Philippines. While scientist like, my heroine Sara Almquist, struggle to find clues that will allow the development of effective vaccines and antivirals, the flu spreads rapidly. Scary but real?

Of course, Sara gets involved in a lot more than science in The Flu Is Coming when she learns too much about the criminal activities of a couple of her neighbors. So, fans of police procedurals won’t be disappointed. They’ll get a snap shot of the problems faced by law enforcement agents during a quarantine.
Why don’t you read The Flu Is Coming and learn a little thrilling science?

Thumbnail of the new novel: In The Flu Is Coming, epidemiologist Sara Almquist is trying to stop two killers: the Philippine flu, which is rapidly wiping out everyone in a walled community in New Mexico, and a drug kingpin determined to break out of the quarantined enclave.

The paperback version of The Flu Is Coming is available at: https://www.amazon.com/Flu-Coming-Science-Traveler/dp/0578423251. The Kindle version at: https://www.amazon.com/Flu-Coming-Science-Traveler-Book-ebook/dp/B07KX3J37W

Bio: J.L. Greger is a scientist and research administrator turned novelist. She likes to include tidbits of science in her award-winning thriller/mystery novels: Murder: A Way to Lose, Riddled with Clues, and others. To learn more, visit http://www.jlgreger.com.

Published by John M. Wills

Award-winning author and freelance writer. Published ten books in addition to more thant 200 articles, short stories, and poetry. Writing professionally since retiring from the FBI in 2004.

6 thoughts on “Science Makes a Great Mystery

    1. Thanks. I was snowed in on January 2 & 3. New Mexico is suppose to get more show Sunday. This is a great book for reading when you’re snowed in. The isolation of a quarantine is like being snowed in – only many fold worse because of the fear of the contagious disease.

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