Vector by James Abel

The latest biothriller from James Abel takes Joe Rush from the jungles of Brazil to New York and across the United States in Vector. In Brazil to study malaria, Joe and his partner Eddie Nakamura get talked into poking around to see if they can find anything about terrorists groups planning an attack on the United States or its interests by an old FBI contact. When Eddie goes missing, Joe must track him down and in doing so, stumbles onto a threat far worse than anyone was expecting.

Meanwhile, a homegrown terrorist is back in New York planning the release of modified mosquitoes infected with a newer, deadlier strain of malaria. Joe sets out to rescue Eddie with the help of Brazilian police captain Izabel Santo before heading back to the States. Once there he must try to stop the terrorists before their attack can spread in truly devastating fashion.

I’ve read enough poorly executed biothrillers to appreciate a good one like Vector all the more. James Abel (pseudonym for Bob Reiss) takes a terrifying threat, disease carrying mosquitoes, and marries it to a clever and realistic plot. He adds in a strong hero with an interesting support team and an antagonist that you can feel sorry for even as you despise the heinous acts he is perpetrating. Supporting characters Eddie, Izabel, and especially young intern Aya all challenge Joe and offer him different perspectives that ultimately help him choose a course of action.

Abel has a knack for sketching out likeable characters, both major and minor, that help provide an emotional connection to the danger in which he places them. Coupled with a plot that seems realistic enough to be ripped from the headlines and you have a thriller that will have you turning the pages even as you get a little extra chill from the sound of a mosquito buzzing past your ear.

This is the fourth Joe Rush thriller and while there is some backstory to the characters, it reads fine as a standalone story. I’ve been meaning to jump into this series for a while and Vector certainly didn’t disappoint. Highly recommended.

I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book.

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