Release day GENOME by A.G. Riddle

A.G. Riddle is one of the world’s most successful independent authors. Riddle writes SciFi/SciThri, and today is release day for book 2 in his Extinction Files series. Read about GENOME below.

Genome by A.G. Riddle (2017; science thriller, series)

A code hidden in the human genome…
Will reveal the ultimate secret of human existence.
And could hold humanity’s only hope of survival.

* * *

In 2003, the first human genome was sequenced. But the secrets it held were never revealed.

The truth was discovered thirty years ago, almost by accident. Dr. Paul Kraus had spent his entire career searching for what he called humanity’s lost tribes–human ancestors who had gone extinct. When Kraus compared the DNA samples of the lost tribes with our own, he found a pattern of changes: a code. At the time, the technology didn’t exist to unravel what it meant. To protect the secret, Kraus hid his work and disappeared. Now the technology exists to finally understand the mysterious code buried in the human genome, but finding the pieces of Kraus’s research is more dangerous than anyone imagined.

Dr. Peyton Shaw and her mother have obtained part of Kraus’s research–and a cryptic message that could lead to the remaining pieces. They believe his work is the key to stopping a global conspiracy–and an event that will change humanity forever.

The ultimate secret, buried in the human genome, will change our very understanding of what it means to be human. For Peyton, finding it may come at an incredible price. She must weigh the lives of strangers against those she loves: Desmond Hughes and her mother. With time running out, Peyton makes a fateful choice–one that can never be undone.

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Guest post: Smallpox and a MacGyver chemist in thriller DEADLY SAVAGE welcomes award-winning author and chemist Dave Edlund, whose latest Peter Savage thriller Deadly Savage invokes the great historic scourge of smallpox.

Deadly Savage by Dave Edlund. Action/ international political / bioterror thriller. (April 2016)

When militants invade the Belarusian State University in Minsk, Peter and his father are caught in the crossfire. Held hostage by gunmen who look suspiciously like Russian soldiers, Peter Savage uncovers a deadly plot to kill thousands of innocent civilians—and lay the blame at the feet of the United States government. In a desperate attempt to avoid a global war, Commander James Nicolaou and Peter are called to the front lines of the sinister campaign, and the stakes have never been higher.

Support and the author by ordering Deadly Savage at

What if…smallpox?

Guest post by Dave Edlund

Deadly Savage is an action-political thriller with a large dose of science. The plot, which unfolds mostly in Minsk, Belarus, envisions an audacious plot to weaken NATO. The key is weaponized smallpox virus.

The history of smallpox is fascinating, albeit devilish at times (e.g., campaign of genocide against Native Americans). Until 1973, schoolchildren in the U.S. routinely received smallpox vaccinations. The last reported case of naturally occurring smallpox was in 1977, and on May 8, 1980, the World Health Organization proclaimed the virus to be eradicated globally. But during the Cold War, the U.S. and Russia developed highly contagious and lethal strains of smallpox, as well as the technology to weaponize the virus, in the lab.

To this day, viable samples of smallpox are kept at two locations—one is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and the other is the Vector Research Center in Koltsovo, Siberia. However, a shocking discovery on July 1, 2014, refutes this official position. Six glass vials dated to 1954 containing smallpox were discovered in a cardboard box in an unsecured FDA laboratory in Bethesda, Maryland, on the campus of the National Institutes of Health. Even after 60 years, the virus in two of the vials was still viable and capable of causing infection. How many other samples are out there, unaccounted for? And given that the Soviets were manufacturing 20 tons of weaponized virus annually in the mid-70s, how certain can anyone be that it was all destroyed? Troubling questions, given that our youngest generations have never been vaccinated against smallpox, and those who did receive vaccine in the 60s and 70s have a compromised measure of protection. Modern populations have never been more vulnerable to this terrifying weapon.

In Deadly Savage, the protagonist, Peter Savage, finds himself besieged by pro-Russian militia within a science building on the campus of the prestigious Belarussian State University. Peter is a chemist by education and he’s an inventor, quite comfortable tinkering with a variety of hardware. In short order, he makes his way to the chemistry storeroom where he assembles some offensive weapons—but perhaps not what you’re imagining. I stayed away from explosives (too obvious) for a few reasons, not the least of which are time and reliability. As a chemist myself, I know that making effective explosives takes time—something my main character doesn’t have.

Eventually, Peter finds an aerosol device for dispersing the virus, and he is challenged to arrive at a method of rendering it inoperative. Again, the most obvious methods must be avoided since the case is thought to be booby-trapped—it cannot be touched, moved, incinerated, or blown up. He draws on his knowledge of physics and his manual assembly skills as an inventor to derive an ingenious solution.

But who is making these aerosol-dispersion machines to spread smallpox virus? Hard data is required. Once again, the campus science building provides a necessary tool in the form of an electron microscope. A rigorous analysis of trace particles from a deactivated aerosol machine—mostly dust and pollen—provides invaluable clues. With this fingerprint, the U.S. government is ready to present their case to the United Nations. However, condemnation is not sufficient to ensure the deadly virus will never be used again.

But what is? The answer may be more terrifying than the virus.

Deadly Savage is available wherever books are sold, including Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes. You will find links to purchase, reviews, and sample chapters here

About the Author Dave Edlund:

A member of the International Thriller Writers, Dave Edlund writes action-political thrillers often compared to the Dirk Pitt novels by Clive Cussler, the Sigma Series novels by James Rollins, and the Jack Ryan novels by Tom Clancy. His current release, “Hunting Savage”, is “…required reading for any thriller aficionado”, Steve Berry, author of “The 14th Colony”, New York Times and #1 International bestselling author.

Edlund’s award-winning debut, “Crossing Savage”, was followed by “Relentless Savage” and the critically acclaimed “Deadly Savage”. He lives with his family and four dogs in Central Oregon. A graduate of the University of Oregon (Ph.D. in chemistry), he has dedicated his professional career to developing new technology to support the hydrogen economy. “I strive to bring cutting-edge science and technology into my stories, and then to extrapolate that innovation beyond what is presently known, but is plausible,” Edlund explains. An avid outdoorsman, you are likely to find the author in the deep woods far away from other people when he is not writing. To connect with Dave Edlund or to request a Skype visit, contact him at

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Guest post: Evil + science makes good stories by Jenifer Ruff welcomes author Jenifer Ruff, a science thriller writer who uses her epidemiology credentials to create a ripped-from-the-headlines bioterror novel called Only Wrong Once.

Only Wrong Once by Jenifer Ruff. Science / bioterror thriller. (September 2017)

A sinister experiment outside Aleppo.

Two mysterious deaths: one in LA, one in Boston, each with the same horrific symptoms.

A powerful ISIS leader chooses an American-born microbiologist from the University of Damascus and manipulates him into doing the unthinkable: weaponize a deadly virus and recruit American citizens to disperse the disease.

In Charlotte, a lonely banker desperate for a more meaningful life receives increasingly urgent requests of Come Visit from his cousin in Syria. After losing his job and traveling overseas, will he become a willing participant in the inevitable terrorist plot?

In Los Angeles, FBI counterterrorism agent Quinn Traynor and his team receive a call from CDC agent, Madeline Hamilton. She’s discovered the first victim of a lethal, unfamiliar virus. Their joint investigation uncovers evidence of the imminent bio-terror attack and their only hope is to identify the terrorists carrying the disease. With just two days remaining before it’s too late, the FBI and the CDC race to prevent a pandemic. The ensuing nightmare will hit closer to home than they ever anticipated and one of them will pay an unimaginable price for protecting the country.

From secret jihadist bunkers in Syria to the city streets of Los Angeles, Boston, and Charlotte, Only Wrong Once is a chilling, internationally relevant suspense novel that will leave you reeling from the too-real prospect of a global terrorism nightmare.

Support and the author by ordering Only Wrong Once at

Twisted science innovation makes for thrilling fiction

Guest post by Jenifer Ruff

For most of us, the allure of science is not in the realistic daily grind of repeated experiments and the tiny increments of learning that occur after countless hours in a lab. The attraction is in the ground-breaking innovations that change lives and essentially allow us to better control our environment. A riveting science-based novel incorporates elements of scientific foundations, but includes a fantastic yet feasible leap of knowledge. The thrillers that have kept me on the edge of my seat have taken that leap of innovation and placed it in the hands of dark and twisted minds. The suspense occurs with the threat of impending chaos, a result of sinister motivations. Is it inevitable? Can it be stopped? The excitement comes with an extreme juxtaposition to the socially acceptable uses of science and medicine. But I don’t feel guilty, it’s fun to be nervous and wary within the context of reading fiction.

In Only Wrong Once, my newest novel, a virologist is recruited and brainwashed by ISIS to weaponize a hemorrhagic fever by crossing its molecular structure with the common cold virus. Once the CDC and FBI discover the first victim, the race is on to prevent a pandemic.  In hindsight, the concept was sparked years ago, when I was a graduate student in Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale Medical School. One of the top floors of the building held a secure and restricted room for advanced research. The lab inside was rumored to hold the most dangerous of diseases, including bubonic plague, polio, and hemorrhagic fevers. I remember people actually whispering out of reverence when talking about it. Studying those samples required extreme precautions, including personal protective gear. My work never took me inside that room, but just knowing those samples existed, supposedly, so close to our day-to-day classrooms, always struck me as wildly disturbing and fascinating. The ominous possibilities . . .

In my novels Everett and Rothaker, a tenacious and dedicated medical student is also a psychopath who repeatedly takes her passion for scientific exploration to the dark side. Her scientific “exploits” and her justification for them are as fascinating as they are horrific.

Sometimes I question why I repeatedly come up with dark and disturbing uses of science and medicine, but then I remember that millions of readers enjoy the edgy thrill ride that comes with contemplating the unthinkable.

About the Author Jenifer Ruff:

I grew up in Northampton, Massachusetts, a charming college-town, and earned science degrees from Mount Holyoke College and Yale University.   As the daughter of a library director, I’ve been devouring stacks of books since before I could walk. On my own, I always go for thrillers and mysteries, but as a result of two book clubs and recommendations from friends, I enjoy books from every genre.  I live in Charlotte, North Carolina, with my husband, three sons, and our greyhounds.

Author’s website:

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Don’t mess with bird flu: THE HAN AGENT by Amy Rogers

I am pleased to announce the release of my third science thriller novel, The Han Agent. The book has gotten some rave reviews from early readers, and I’m so excited to share this book with you, the audience, for whom it was written. Please buy the book or request it from your local library this week. Let’s get a story with real science into the bestseller lists!

The Han Agent by Amy Rogers. Science thriller (September 5, 2017)

In the 1930s, Japanese scientists committed heinous crimes in their quest for the ultimate biological weapon.
The war ended. Their mission did not.

Eighty years later, Japanese-American scientist Amika Nakamura won’t let rules stand between her and scientific glory. When the ambitious young virologist defies a ban on the genetic manipulation of influenza, she’s expelled from the university. Desperate to save her career, she accepts a position with a pharmaceutical company in Tokyo. Soon after, a visit to a disputed island entangles her in a high-profile geopolitical struggle between Japan and China. Applying her singular expertise with bird flu in a risky experiment may be the only way out. Little does she know that Japanese ultranationalists and a legacy of unpunished war crimes lurk in the shadows, manipulating people, politics, and science.

But DNA doesn’t lie. Amika uncovers a shocking truth: a deadly virus is about to put the “gene” in genocide.

Advance praise for The Han Agent by Amy Rogers, founder of

“…as exciting as it is frighteningly realistic. It could be tomorrow’s headline.”—James Rollins, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Sobering, suspenseful, and absolutely chilling.”—Barry Lancet, award-winning author of Japantown and Tokyo Kill

The Han Agent is a surefire genre hit, fast-paced and full of elements of mystery and adventure.”Foreword Reviews magazine

“This pressure cooker of a thriller portrays with chilling realism how individuals can use specialized scientific knowledge for good or evil.”—J.E. Fishman, bestselling author of Primacy and the Bomb Squad NYC series
Click here for links to all other retailers.
Click here for bulk purchases from publisher.

For more information about the book, visit publisher’s site

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Book buzz: THE SCIENCE OF COOKING, a DK Publication book review of The Science of Cooking written by Dr. Stuart Farrimond and published by DK Books.

Publication date: September 19, 2017
Category: cookbook / how-to / science trivia

Summary (from the publisher):

Get answers to all your cooking science questions, and cook tastier, more nutritious food using fundamental principles, practical advice, and step-by-step techniques.

Where does the heat come from in a chili pepper? Why is wild salmon darker than farmed? Does searing meat really “seal in” the juices? A good recipe goes a long way, but if you can master the science behind it, you’ll be one step ahead.

Using full-color images, stats and facts through infographics, and an engaging Q&A format to show you how to perfect your cooking, The Science of Cooking brings food science out of the lab and into your kitchen. Topics include meat and poultry, seafood, dairy, pulses and grains, fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs, baked goods, and more, making it perfect for perfecting everyday cooking as well as for special meals.

ScienceThrillers review:

I love science. I love food. And even if I don’t “love” to cook, I cook a lot, and I love to do it well. So call me the ideal audience for Dorling Kindersley (DK) Publishing’s new book The Science of Cooking: Every question answered to give you the edge, written by British sci-comm polymath Dr. Stuart Farrimond.

I’ve been a fan of DK Books since my kids were young, when every trip to the public library sent us home with at least one of this British publisher’s beautiful, content-rich books. You want to flip through a DK book, with the gorgeous photographic page layouts. Content is secondary to the images, delivered in small nibbles rather than lengthy passages. These are not textbooks.

Farrimond’s Science of Cooking fits this mold, though with more text than many of DK’s children’s books. This food book is a feast for the eyes. Food photography, infographics, and diagrams are a delight to look at. I read an ebook version and desperately wished I was holding the print copy. Page designs are varied and often span a full spread across the spine of the book. Content is structured by food category. There are chapters on kitchen tools; meat/poultry; fish/seafood; eggs/dairy; rice/grains/pasta; vegetables/fruits/nuts/seeds; herbs/spices/oils/flavorings; baking/sweet things.

Information is largely conveyed as answers to interesting questions and “culinary conundrums, drawing on the latest research to give meaningful and practical answers.” In other words, you won’t find recipes per se in this book, but you’ll find useful information with mildly scientific explanations as rationale. (If you want serious biochemistry, look elsewhere.) Call it applied trivia. “Does adding salt to water make vegetables cook faster?” “How do I cook fish to have crispy skin?” “Why exactly is quinoa so special?” (I’m totally going to try this: “Quinoa can be popped like popcorn if you dry roast it, turning it into a crunchy topping for soups and breakfast cereals.”) Did you know that leaving mushrooms in the sun increases their content of vitamin D?

I enjoyed reading this book cover-to-cover and it prompted me to make a couple of concrete changes in my cooking (for example, I bought peanut oil for high-heat stirfry, something I did not use previously). By itself, the section on eggs is worth buying the book.

Any review of a book called The Science of Cooking should make at least some comparison to the gold standard in this category, Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking. While both of these books cover the same subject area, they do not compete with each other. McGee’s book is a 900-page tome with an occasional black-and-white illustration and encyclopedic coverage. (McGee has two pages of text just on unheated preparations of fish. You won’t find kinilaw in the DK book.) Farrimond’s version is more fun, more digestible, more applied, and of course more photogenic. My only complaint in comparison is that Farrimond’s book targets a general audience and often simplifies the actual science in its explanations. McGee is less afraid of alienating the non-technical reader.

The only problem with The Science of Cooking is niche. It’s really a cross-genre book that doesn’t fit cleanly into any one bookstore shelf category. It’s a science book, but not hard science or narrative nonfiction. It’s a cookbook, but doesn’t have traditional recipes. It’s a tome of beautiful photography, but lacks the heft of a coffee table book. Personally I’d file it under how-to: Science of Cooking is practical and illustrative.

DK’s The Science of Cooking by Dr. Stuart Farrimond is a visually appealing food book that answers practical questions with a scientific rationale for why cooks should do what they do. Home chefs are guaranteed to find at least one useful gem that they can apply to their everyday shopping and food preparation. A lovely gift for the amateur cook with a scientific bent. –

About the Author:

Dr. Stuart Farrimond is a science and medical writer, presenter and educator. As a trained medical doctor and qualified teacher, he passionately communicates science and health sciences; seeking to inspire and engage others about these topics which are all too easily seen as stuffy and irrelevant. Learn more about his many sci-comm activities at

Thank you Netgalley and publisher for providing free advance e-copy of this book for possible review.

Support and the book’s author: Click to buy The Science of Cooking from

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Guest post: Science thriller plot ideas by Dennis Meredith welcomes author Dennis Meredith, whose author of several science thrillers whose next book The Neuromorphs is seeking nominations on Kindle Scout for one more day. Nominate it today and get a free ebook when it’s published!

The Neuromorphs summary: In 2050, self-learning Helper androids have become benign, invaluable aids to humans. That is, until Russian mobsters hack the operating systems of Helpers of ultra-wealthy owners…

How to Make Plot Ideas Pop Into Your Head

Guest post by Dennis Meredith

Novelists are often asked how they get their plot ideas, and I get plots for my science thrillers to pop into my noggin from extensive reading about science and technology. Sometimes the idea will come before any research, often as little more than a phrase or sentence. I’ve found “What if…?” questions to be the most fruitful.

My first published novel, The Cerulean’s Secret, arose from the simple question “What if there was a blue cat?” The notion nagged and nagged at me, until I started spinning a plot around it. I realized the plot had to revolve around genetic engineering, so I began doing research, coming up with lots of articles that helped form the plot. As with all my novels, I included a list of those sources on my web site.

Similarly, The Rainbow Virus started with “What if there was a virus that turned people colors?” The plot and details from that novel also grew from research that I ultimately posted on my web site.

Sometimes, it won’t be a “What if…?” question that sparks a plot, but passages in articles I’ve read.

For example, the idea for The Neuromorphs arose from two quotes. In 2014, Science magazine quoted computer researcher Todd Hylton as saying “We think robotics is the killer app for neuromorphic computing.” Of course, Hylton didn’t literally mean killer robots, but the idea stayed in my head that the kind of robots based on brain-like neuromorphic circuitry could somehow become lethal.

The kicker that really launched the plot was a chilling passage from an article on artificial intelligence by Jason Tanz in Wired magazine:

“With machine learning, the engineer never knows precisely how the computer accomplishes its tasks. The neural network’s operations are largely opaque and inscrutable. It is, in other words, a black box. And as these black boxes assume responsibility for more and more of our daily digital tasks, they are not only going to change our relationship with technology—they are going to change how we think about ourselves, our world, and our place within it.”

Of course, I needed a plot to go with those ideas, so I decided on a theme that no safeguards against artificially intelligent robots escaping control could protect against human greed and depravity. I found lots of good resources to help formulate a plot to support that theme.

In that plot, Russian mobsters bribe the chief programmer of a company that makes lifelike androids to alter the operating systems of androids belonging to wealthy people. Those androids would then kill their owners, be re-engineered to mimic them, take their place, and loot their wealth for the mobsters.

Sometimes, though, it won’t be articles I’ve read, but technology-related experiences that trigger a plot idea. The plot for my latest novel, The Happy Chip, arose when I realized how extensively companies like Facebook and Google were compiling data on my personal habits. That data, I realized, could evolve into a form of control. I wondered “What if people could have chips implanted that would give them data on themselves?” From there, the plot evolved in which corrupt company executives transform data chips into control chips.

My plot-conceiving technique has worked incredibly well. I now have 20 novel plots lined up and more coming. Now, I just have to write the books!

About the Author:

Dennis Meredith’s career as a science communicator has included service at some of the country’s leading research universities, including MIT, Caltech, Cornell, Duke and the Universities of Rhode Island and Wisconsin. He has worked with science journalists at all the nation’s major newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV networks and has written well over a thousand news releases and magazine articles on science and engineering over his career. He has served on the executive board of the National Association of Science Writers and is a contributor to its magazine ScienceWriters.

Author’s website: His latest release is The Happy Chip. Science fiction thriller (April 2017)

You feel ecstatic! Until you kill yourself.

The Happy Chip is the latest nanoengineering wonder from the high-flying tech company, NeoHappy, Inc.

Hundreds of millions of people have had the revolutionary nanochip injected into their bodies, to monitor their hormonal happiness and guide them to life choices, from foods to sex partners.Given the nanochip’s stunning success, struggling science writer Brad Davis is thrilled when he is hired to co-author the biography of its inventor, billionaire tech genius Marty Fallon.

That is, until Davis learns that rogue company scientists are secretly testing horrifying new control chips with “side effects”–suicidal depression, uncontrollable lust, murderous rage, remote-controlled death, and ultimately, global subjugation.

His discovery threatens not only his life, but that of his wife Annie and their children. Only with the help of Russian master hacker Gregor Kalinsky and his gang can they hope to survive the perilous adventure that takes them from Boston to Beijing.

Support and the author by ordering The Happy Chip at

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Guest post: Emerging disease fiction VECTOR by James Abel welcomes author Robert Reiss writing as James Abel. Abel’s series of science thrillers about Joe Rush, a military bio-terror expert, is now at book #4. If you haven’t discovered these yet, now is the time!

Vector by James Abel. Science/medical thriller (paperback released July 25, 2017)

Joe Rush takes on a new terror, spawned in the Amazon rain forest, that threatens to bring the world to its knees in James Abel’s latest bio-thriller.

While studying new forms of malaria at an Amazon gold rush, Joe Rush’s best friend and partner, Eddie Nakamura, disappears. Learning that many of the sick miners have also vanished, Rush begins a search for Eddie that takes him into the heart of darkness–where while battling for his life, he discovers a secret that may change the world.

Thousands of miles away, sick people are starting to flood into U.S. hospitals. When the White House admits that it has received terrorist threats, cities across the Northeast begin to shut down. Rush and his team must journey from one of the most remote spots on Earth to one of the busiest, as the clock ticks toward a kind of annihilation not thought possible. They have even less time than they think to solve the mystery, for the danger–as bad as it is–is about to get even worse.

Support and the author by ordering Vector at

Truth about emerging diseases makes compelling fiction

Guest post by James Abel, author of Vector

VECTOR took over 25 years in the making, and combines my experiences covering science and climate change as a journalist and non-fiction author…and a horrifying “what if” that I learned about along the way. I think that one reason I invented my hero – former Marine bio-terror expert Joe Rush – is that he epitomizes that mix of real world and hard fact, and what may happen next.

In the real world I covered a gold rush deep in the Amazon, where I saw men suffering from terrible new forms of malaria. I also visited Fort Detrich, Maryland, where the Army disease labs are located. At Harvard University I interviewed experts familiar with mosquito biology…and at NYU, I talked to researchers who told me the history of the way that certain mutations in nature made famous disease (black plague, for instance) much worse.

As a fiction writer of 18 books I often deal with what if? What if this happened now? What if certain people intentionally designed a new kind of VECTOR, to carry a new kind of illness, a real one, deep in the Amazon. How would they do it? How would they spread it? How would you track it down and understand it and hopefully fight it as a clock ticks and the danger spreads…and that is what became VECTOR.

Joe Rush is an fictional individual with loves and hates, friends and lovers, but he is also a living embodiment of what we really know about illness, what we wish we knew, what we fear can happen, and how we’d fight it if if did happen. The weapons we will face in the future will always be different from the ones we have faced in the past.

About the Author:

James Abel is the pseudonym for Bob Reiss, an accomplished author and journalist who has written extensively about trouble spots and exotic locations around the world, including the Arctic, Somalia, and the Amazon rain forest. He is the author of the Joe Rush novels, including Cold SilenceProtocol Zero, and White Plague. Abel lives and works in New York City.

Author’s websites: and

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Guest post: Pharma scientist in PROTOCOL by Kathleen Valenti welcomes author Kathleen Valenti, whose mystery series featuring pharmaceutical researcher Maggie O’Malley launches September 5.

Want to read it before everyone else? Enter to win a paperback ARC (advance reader copy)!

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Protocol by Kathleen Valenti. Medical mystery/thriller (September 5, 2017)

Freshly minted college graduate Maggie O’Malley embarks on a career fueled by professional ambition and a desire to escape the past. As a pharmaceutical researcher, she’s determined to save lives from the shelter of her lab. But on her very first day she’s pulled into a world of uncertainty. Reminders appear on her phone for meetings she’s never scheduled with people she’s never met. People who end up dead.

With help from her best friend, Maggie discovers the victims on her phone are connected to each other and her new employer. She soon unearths a treacherous plot that threatens her mission—and her life. Maggie must unlock deadly secrets to stop horrific abuses of power before death comes calling for her.

Support and the author by pre-ordering Protocol at

What’s a Girl Like Me Doing with a Book Like This?

Guest post by Kathleen Valenti, author of Protocol

When I was in my early 20s, I accompanied a youth group to France as an interpreter. It was the perfect opportunity to put my years of high school and college French to good use (there aren’t many French-speakers in my Oregon hometown), and it provided me the chance to experience the cultural riches of a country I’d always wanted to visit.

One of the biggest highlights of the trip wasn’t shopping along des Champs Élysées or seeing the Eiffel Tower at night or visiting Paris’ most famous museums. It was the moment when a bank teller thought I was French.

I had arrived.

I had the same feeling at Malice Domestic when early readers of PROTOCOL asked about my job as a pharmaceutical researcher.

I almost spewed coffee from my nose.

Me? A pharmaceutical researcher?

I was the English major who prayed her way through chemistry and scarcely knew the difference between aspirin and Tylenol.

I was beyond flattered.

The question suggested that I had successfully impersonated a pharmaceutical professional and had channeled the role into my book and protagonist.

To what could I attribute this masquerade? How did I cover a subject with which I had no practical experience? How had I gone against the commandment of Thou Shalt Write What Ye Knows so boldly, so shamelessly?

One word: research.

Followed by three words: lots of it.

I knew I wanted to write about the world of pharmaceuticals because it’s replete with storytelling—and mystery-spinning—opportunities. I began with that great font of information, Google, to learn the basics of how drugs are developed and brought to market.

Spoiler alert: it wasn’t enough.

Fortunately, I have a friend whose husband works for an international pharmaceutical company—Big Pharma, just like in my book. With this friend’s help, I learned the ins and outs of pharmaceutical research and development. The science behind discovery. Assays. Testing. Review processes. And, yes, protocols.

I also gleaned a great deal about what it’s like to work in this rarefied world. The pressure’s intense. So are many of the people who work there. And although there are many joys to be found in work dedicated to bettering the human experience, there are challenges that go beyond the scientific method.

Some of those challenges make for good mystery fodder.

PROTOCOL focuses on the linchpin between science and commerce, progress and profit margins. Because seventy percent of us rely on some kind of medication for our health and well-being, it’s a topic that touches many lives. Small wonder prescription costs, benefits and oversight make headlines.

The upshot of this pharmaceutical crash-course was that it opened the door to a subject area rich with possibility. I still have much to learn, and that’s okay. I’ve discovered that research is the prescription for the curious— one that needs constant refilling.

About the Author:

When Kathleen isn’t writing page-turning mysteries that combine humor and suspense, she works as a nationally award-winning copywriter. She lives in Oregon with her family where she pretends to enjoy running. Protocol is her debut novel and the first of the Maggie O’Malley mystery series.

Author’s website:

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