Smallpox was wiped off the face of the Earth more than 30 years ago, but an outbreak on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico has claimed one life, and the disease is spreading. The conclusion that the outbreak is the result of a terrorist attack is official U.S. policy, but the facts don’t add up to terrorism.
Tipped off by a former classmate teaching in Farmington, Sarah
Lockford, a Washington Post reporter, teams up with Jake Overman, a medical researcher from the Centers for Disease
Control, to investigate the outbreak.
As the National Security Council debates, the White House readies plans for a retaliatory attack against Iran. A cabinet member with a grudge deploys military personnel to New Mexico to make sure no one stands in the way of a military response. The Navajo community is secretly shut off from the rest of the world. Roads are guarded, and all incoming and outgoing communications are blocked.
The only leak is a phone call to Sarah, and Sarah can’t be found. She evades surveillance and travels through the wilderness to the outbreak site, where she and Jake discover its surprising origin. Forced into a cross-country game of cat and mouse, they must get their scientific evidence to the President in time. If they fail, the U.S. may launch a nuclear attack.
FACE OF THE EARTH is fiction, but all of the scientific and U.S. policy information in the novel has been scrupulously fact-checked. The story is frightening because everything in it could happen.