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The Deep Zone

Cover of The Deep Zone

The Deep Zone

A Novel
Borrow Borrow
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.
From the Hardcover edition.
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.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    ONE
    Some nights, when the winds of spring rise up out of Virginia, they peel fog from the Potomac and drape it over the branches of deadtrees trapped in the river’s black mud banks. Streamers pull free and flow into the mews of Foggy Bottom and the cobblestoned alleys of Old Georgetown, float over the chockablock townhouses, and finally wrap pale, wet shrouds around war-fortune mansions.

    A black Navigator pushed through this fog, driving weston O Street until it left behind the homes of the merely rich and entereda realm of oceanic wealth. The SUV turned onto a drive of gravel the size and color of corn kernels and walled on both sides by Madagascar barberry nine feet tall and bristling with three-inch thorns.
    In the backseat, the passenger stared at the red spikes and thought about crucifixion.
    The Navigator passed through a series of remote-controlled gates, the last of which was hung with warning signs: 


    DANGER
    10,000 VOLTS
    EXTREME HAZARD
    STAY CLEAR 


    It stopped in front of a mansion of rust-colored brick and white marble. Flowers like red fists filled white boxes hung beneath windows of wavy, distorted glass. Boxwoods carved into strange shapes lined the circular receiving area in front.
    The driver got out, a tall man blacker than his blacksuit, lips like overripe plums, skin smooth as polished onyx. He wore sunglasses, despite the hour. His accent was thickly African: “Sair. We hair.” 


    The passenger stepped onto glistening cobblestones. A warm and moist night, fog coiling around his legs, air fragrant with boxwood and the coppery bouquet of those red flowers. The Navigator dissolved in mist. He climbed granite steps, their edges rounded off by a century and a half of wear, to a columned, curving porch that reminded him of the foredeck of an old sailing ship. He was reaching for the knocker, a massive brass cross hung upside down, when the door swung inward. 


    Standing before him was a tall woman wearing a blouse of lime-green silk and a white linen Dior skirt cut above the knee. She had shoulder-length red hair and green eyes and she was so beautiful that looking at her was like gazing at the sun: impossible to regard for more than seconds. 


    “Good evening. I am Erika. Thank you so much for coming.”Lilting, musical voice, traces of Ukraine or Belarus. She extended a hand,cool, long-fingered. She smelled faintly of gardenias.
    “My pleasure.”
    “Mr. Adelheid has been expecting you. Please.”
    He followed her down a long, dusky hallway floored with Italian marble, smooth and white as ancient ice. In pools of yellow light on the burgundy-painted walls hung what he took for reproductions, a van Gogh, a Renoir. Then he stopped.
    “Excuse me. Is that a real Picasso?”
    Erika glanced over her shoulder. “Of course. They are all originals.”
    She brought him to a pair of doors from an old century, some European castle or palace, pushed one open, touched his arm, and left.
    A man came forward holding a heavy crystal tumbler. He wore tan gabardine slacks pressed to a knife-edged crease, a blackdouble-breasted blazer, a French blue shirt open at the collar, and a pale roseascot. The visitor had never actually met someone who wore an ascot and had to keep himself from staring. The deep, resonant voice on the recordings had led him to expect someone huge and powerful, but this man was as slim as Fred Astaire and moved with the same languid grace.
    A man who never hurried, he thought. Not once in his life.
    For all his elegance, there was nothing effeminate about the man. Quite the...

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.

Reviews-
  • Kirkus Reviews "A smart, informative debut thriller with a pair of assertive heroines that draws us into the strange wonders of inner space."
  • Brad Thor, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of Full Black "Ever since Michael Crichton passed, I have been looking for an author capable of crafting such creative, intelligent, pulse-pounding tales. Well, the search is over. THE DEEP ZONE is an absolutely phenomenal read--THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN for the 21st Century. Ladies and gentlemen, meet James M. Tabor, the new Michael Crichton."
  • James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of The Devil Colony "Deep-earth adventure, scintillating science, and cutthroat intrigue collide with thrilling results in James M. Tabor's The Deep Zone. Wildly imaginative but grounded in today's headlines, the story left me breathless and awed. Truly impressive."
  • Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Columbus Affair "Just like the perilous cave that serves as its backdrop, this story is dark and terrifying--but with a light at its end. The book should come shrink-wrapped with a seat belt."
  • Katherine Neville, New York Times bestselling author of The Eight "The Deep Zone packs all the suspenseful wallop of Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain, Stephen King's The Stand, and Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth. This is a literal cliffhanger that alters the way we look beneath the surface of our reality."
  • David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of Creepers "One of the most ripping, primal thrillers I've read in a long while . . . Mixing adventure with breathless suspense, James M. Tabor expertly takes readers to the bottom of one of the world's deepest caves and makes the journey both harrowing and awesome. This one really stands out."
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A Novel
James M. Tabor
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