Top 10 microbiology thrillers

In honor of the American Society for Microbiology’s general meeting which starts today (boy, I wish I was there), here’s a list of the ten best thrillers with microbiology content that I’ve reviewed here at ScienceThrillers:

  1. The Hot Zone by Richard Preston. No contest, this nonfiction thriller about hemorrhagic fever viruses in suburban Washington DC reads like a novel and is one of the best books EVER. I assigned it to students in my micro class at CSU and they consistently reported it was a mind-blowing read.
  2. The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton. Written at the height of the space race in 1969, this novel is about deadly microbes accidentally brought back to earth from orbit. Okay, so the chemistry of whatever those space bugs are doing doesn’t hold up to scientific scrutiny, but the scientific process of studying them in the underground lab is way cool. One of the best opening scenes to any thriller.
  3. Deadly by Julie Chibbaro. Young adult novel about a teenage girl in 19th century New York who gets involved in epidemiology investigation of Typhoid Mary. Highly recommend for teenage girls with geeky tendencies.
  4. Spiral by Paul McEuen.  Written by a Cornell physics professor with equal billing given to nanorobots and pathogenic fungi. Great fun.
  5. Isolation Ward by Joshua Spanogle. Written by Stanford med student. Superb medical thriller with themes of STDs, emerging viruses, informed consent, vaccine trials.
  6. Cold Plague by Daniel Kalla. Antarctic prions threaten the world. Written by an MD. Strong fictional portrayal of epidemiology methods.
  7. The Lazarus Strain by Ken McClure. Action-adventure thriller set in Britain, starring physician/special forces hero. Bad guys attempt to resurrect the 1918 influenza.
  8. The Judas Strain by James Rollins. If you know the work of this bestselling thriller writer, then you know he starts with a little science fact and goes crazy from there. So don’t expect tech accuracy in this novel about a gruesome plague, but it’s a heck of a fun read.
  9. The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley. This novel isn’t so much about microbiology, it’s about the social impact of a modern-day pandemic told from the point of view of a suburban Ohio family. Guaranteed to give moms nightmares.
  10. Petroplague by Amy Rogers. Written by an MD/PhD former microbiology professor (full disclosure: me). Disaster thriller with loads of real microbiology. Oil-eating bacteria contaminate the fuel supply of Los Angeles and paralyze the city.
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2 Responses to Top 10 microbiology thrillers

  1. Hi, i really appreciate your effort to list out this books. Am a graduate of Microbiology, believe me, i never knew we actually have microbiology inclined novels. I just cant wait to lay my hands on them. Am a Nigerian, please how can i get these books whether in hardcopy or ebook format. I would really appreciate if u can help. Thanks. Nice meeting you Amy Rogers

    • Amy Rogers says:

      Somewhere online, I suppose! There are ebook retailers that operate in Nigeria, I’m sure, but I don’t know who they are. Good luck and thanks for visiting!

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