A young doctor researches a treatment for a mysterious virus. Suddenly, when her doctoral supervisor in Barcelona dies from a rare disease, she is dragged into a maelstrom of dangerous events. A former fellow student almost dies in an attempt on his life, and a trip to Iceland nearly proves fatal for her. Her best friend becomes seriously concerned for her safety. A German doctor joins the heroine and works feverously at her side, although he almost falls victim to the deadly manipulations of an internationally renowned pharmaceutical company. Will the young doctor finally succeed in fighting the fatal virus and exposing the culprits behind it?
Autor: Catherine Howard
Illustration: istockphoto.com/Kyu Oh
ca. 212 Seiten
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An exciting race against time which takes us to Berlin, Barcelona and Reykjavík. It involves a heroine and two dead victims: her former Professor and a nightwatchman; no love interest between the main characters.
Berlin, Berlin Institute of Technology
Reykjavík, Laboratories of the company, Lion Sciences
Apartment in Berlin shared by the protagonist and her best friend
The apartment of the Professor in Barcelona
Hospital in Barcelona
Airport in London
Apartment, bank building, and broadcasting studio in Reykjavík
Secluded rural cottage in Iceland
A cottage on Rügen Island
9 male and 5 female roles
Dr. Julia Hofman, an idealistic young doctor of sciences working at a Berlin research institute; is called to Barcelona by her former doctoral supervisor, George Tremayne. While being there, she learns of an incredible medical scandal in Europe; has to find out whether the virus, which has occurred at the same time in Barcelona and Iceland, is fatal; travels to Iceland to get to the heart of the matter; the closer she gets to uncover the scandal, the more dangerous her investigation becomes; finds herself in mortal danger as she, too, is infected with the virus; saved at the last minute.
Prof. George Tremayne, a calm, older man and Julia’s former doctoral supervisor; Professor emeritus in Barcelona; infected by a mysterious virus from which he believes he will die; calls Martin and Julia to Barcelona, hoping for their advice and assistance; trusts Julia’s commitment to help all the people under threat; dies with Julia at his bedside.
Martin Rellin, graduated together with Julia four years ago, but has not seen her since; chose a „money-making“ career path; worked with the global pharmaceutical corporation Lion Sciences for a few years; has realised that he has engulfed countless people in misery; his remorse and disclosure is almost too late for Julia, who is already on her way to Iceland.
Dr. Herbert Schultz, a young medical doctor just as idealistic as Julia; works in a hospital in Barcelona. After a bomb assassination attempt at a Barcelona laboratory, he is asked by the injured Martin to search for Julia and save her, which he does, because he recognises the seriousness of the situation; exposes Lion Sciences‘ dirty dealings together with Julia; infected with the virus, but recovers in the end thanks to the antidotal treatment; becomes friends with Julia due to shared experience.
Sonya Walther, Julia’s best friend; lives in Berlin; drawn into the chaos as Julia is suspected of being a terrorist, although Philip Berger corroborates Sonya’s protestations of Julia’s innocence.
Dr. Philip Berger, another old university friend of Julia; manager of a secret Lion Sciences research department in London initially appears to be a friend, but his complicity with and closeness to Professor Winter soon emerge, as do the fatal consequences for thousands of people; hides out with Sonya out of fear for a while, but in the end surrenders to the police.
Prof. Frederick Winter, head of a research department in Berlin; apparently reputable; nobody knows that he is spearheading the Lion Sciences conspiracy; finally arrested.
Eve Roth, security manager at Lion Sciences and mistress of Prof. Winter, whom she does not love; her heart belongs to Gordon, with whom she had a relationship in order to spy on him for Winter; feels remorse and wants to help Gordon, who turns her down; gets sick upon her return from Iceland but recovers in the end - with the help of Gordon.
Gordon Wegner, a police inspector in Berlin involved in the investigation; deserted by Eve six months earlier; suffers terribly due to Eve's betrayal and can only trust her with immense difficulty when she returns to Berlin; forgives her in the end, but the two are no longer lovers.
Peter Myers, an energetic man; police inspector in Berlin; has to interrogate Julia’s friend, Sonya Walther, together with his colleague Gordon Wegner; flies to Barcelona to question the scientist Martin Rellin.
Sybil Miller, a spirited inspector; works in the murder squad; colleague of Myers and Wegner; flies to Barcelona together with Myers in order to question Martin Rellin in hospital where she learns hitherto unknown details with reference to the existence of a secret research laboratory.
Thorstein Magnusson, nightwatchman at the Icelandic branch of Lion Sciences in Reykjavík; was often at odds with the law in the past; the first one to become suspicious and find evidence of a conspiracy, for which he pays with his life; secures important documents in a safe deposit box before his death and gives the key to his wife, Vigdis.
Vigdis Magnusson, Thorstein‘s wife and widow; encounters much trouble from strangers who try to blackmail her after her husband's death; courageous; helps Julia and Herbert with their private investigation efforts.
Oluf Magnusson, one year-old son of Thorstein and Vigdis.
The following characters are not personalised:
Edgar, a security officer.
Ragnhild, a young Icelandic stewardess who is worried about her family.
Dr. Zimmerman, Sonya Walther’s lawyer.
Iban, a doctor at the hospital in Barcelona.
ExtractThe next police station was three blocks away. After Herbert had asked a passer-by for directions, he struck off. He was in a hurry and his heart was beating with excitement. Bloody hell, they were playing with human lives here! He knew nothing about this virus, but he had to prevent it from being released at any cost!
The small reception in the police station was empty. There was no one behind the counter, and even after a few minutes, no one appeared.
Herbert paced up and down impatiently until finally a police officer entered through a door at the rear of the room, carrying a glass of water. The water spilled on his hand, which was shaking too much to hold the glass still.
“Good morning,” Herbert said in English, “I have come here because I have suspicions against a pharmaceutical company here in Reykjavík.” He laid the documents on the counter.
“Good morning,” the officer retorted. He was in his fifties, and as he approached the counter, Herbert saw that he was sweating on his brow.
The man closed his eyes for a moment as if they were sore; as if the light was too bright for him. “Tell me about this company,” he said in a measured tone of voice.
Herbert had a horrible thought. He would love to have stretched over the counter and felt the man’s forehead with his hand. Did he have a temperature? He pulled himself together. “Are you feeling all right?” Herbert asked, concerned, “Perhaps you should go home if you are not feeling well.”
“I can’t do that,” the officer insisted, “Four of my colleagues on this shift have already rung in sick on account of the flu, so I can’t be sick as well. My other colleagues have also caught it – I don’t know.” He had to cough.
“Nevertheless, perhaps you should see a doctor.”
“Forgive me. What did you say? Why are you here?”
Herbert explained to him why. He handed over the papers and gave the police officer time to read them. He looked up.
“This…” Another coughing fit shook him, and he turned away.
Herbert drummed his fingers impatiently on the table. He sensed tension rising.
“Excuse me, could it be then that...” The policeman stopped talking. He looked at Herbert. “Could it be that I am already infected?”
Herbert nodded slightly. The thought had already crossed his mind. “You should have a medical check-up. You could be infected. It could be that you and your colleagues have been targeted…” His voice trailed away to nothing.
Thus the policeman understood the gravity of the situation, “I am going to call on support from another station then I will inform my superiors.” He reached for the telephone and made two calls. “A colleague is coming. Can you – this virus – can you tell from a blood test…?” He hunched his shoulder, trying to find the right words.
“Unfortunately, we don’t know anything at the moment,” Herbert said, “We need to test your blood and compare it with blood samples from your colleagues.”
“Okay, I will call all of them as well. You should go to the hospital, and we’ll meet you there.” The officer coughed.
They had to wait another three quarters of an hour before he was relieved. The man started to get worse within fifteen minutes. Eventually, he simply sat down on the office chair behind the counter and held his head in his hands whilst Herbert continued to pace up and down. He thought of Julia, who was waiting for him in the café. He had to phone her before he went to hospital.
Julia dialled the number that Ragnhild had written on the serviette over and over again. No one came to the telephone. She started to wonder slowly. Ragnhild had assured her that her mother was at home most of the time. Had something happened to them?
When Herbert appeared at the door and beckoned her frantically, she threw a few coins on the café table next to her coffee cup and hurried outside. There was a taxi waiting for them. “What’s happening?” she asked.
“Later,” Herbert uttered. They jumped into the taxi where an older man in uniform was sitting and coughing heavily. The taxi driver kept looking at him as if he feared for his health.
“Damn it, Herbert, what’s going on?” Julia whispered.
“The disaster,” Herbert replied grimly, “I am afraid we are too late. I am afraid that they released the virus a couple of days ago. God knows how many people have already been infected.”
“But wasn’t the all-clear given last night? Didn’t they tell us that the cases of temperature were all harmless?”
“With this case here, I am not so sure about that,” Herbert said quietly, “There’s another thing. He has been infected, and all his colleagues are at the same stage of the disease, which means they were all infected at the same time. If we assume that there is an incubation period of between 48 and 72 hours…”
“Then he and his colleagues have spread the virus in the last three days evenly throughout Reykjavík. Is that what you mean?”
“Yes, and even worse. The extent of the virus cannot be estimated yet. One good thing, at least, is that the airports have not let anyone fly out in the last two days.”
Julia fell silent. She knew what that meant.
She could not understand it. After the last few days with all its major and minor catastrophes, she did not have the energy to comprehend its full extent. She had been involved in numerous false alarms over the last few years, and how often had she been stuck in airports or isolation wards until the all-clear had been given. Time and again, cases of haemorrhagic fever had occurred. Never had these cases been confirmed. They had got off lightly. Since if one day one of these viruses would manage to transmit from one person to another, then a similar hell would break loose as it did in Berlin back then.
Suddenly Julia shuddered. “I don’t want to,” she whispered.
“What?” Herbert looked at her attentively.
“Not again,” Julia whispered, “All the dead, the people, running screaming through the streets, and the policemen carting them away, only because they didn’t want anyone else to become infected…” Julia covered her face with her hands. Nothing was left anymore of the upright, strong composure that Herbert had so admired in the last 24 hours. She rocked herself backward and forwards, crying softly, and would not be soothed by mere words.
Finally, Herbert simply held her tightly in his arms and let her cry. She buried her head in his shoulder, sobbed quietly, and gradually calmed down again.
“Were you there then? In Berlin?” He realised how little he really knew about Julia. Yet she had become a companion to him in the last 24 hours, almost a friend, with her light-hearted, practical way. It was astonishing to see that she could conceivably show weakness.
The patch of weakness, however, passed quickly. She wiped the tears from her face with a final sniff and took the tissue that Herbert handed to her with a grateful smile.
“Better?” he asked.
She nodded briefly. She was about to say something when her mobile rang.
It was Sonya.
“Are you all right, Julia?” Sonya wanted to know.
Julia could hear the worry in Sonya‘s voice, “Yes, everything’s okay with me. Why do you ask?”
“Because they have declared a state of emergency in Iceland: level three.”
Julia shook her head. “I thought they might,” she said softly.
“Will you call me?” Sonya asked, “As long as you’re... I mean... I am so terribly worried, Julia.”
“Yes, I will call,” Julia promised. She hung up. The mobile lay in her hand, and she shook her head as if numbed.
“What is wrong?” Herbert asked, worried.
“All hell has broken loose. They have even announced a level three.”
Level three! They knew what that meant.
When initial cases of fever of unknown origins occurred, level one was declared. The authorities and hospitals were alerted, and no one was allowed to leave the country at that stage. This level was maintained for 48 hours, and then unless anything further was resolved, a higher level came into effect.
Level two was somewhat more severe. A radius of about nineteen miles around the infected area was cordoned off and declared a quarantine area. Numerous security forces and medical personnel were mobilised to bring the threatening pandemic under control.
Level three - Pandemic! The viral temperature was out of control and spread quickly. The quarantine area was extended. No one was allowed to enter or leave it. Those inside the quarantine area could do only one thing: wait and hope that they would survive.
“Shit,” Herbert said under his breath, “and now?”
At that moment, they arrived at the hospital. Herbert paid the taxi and helped the policemen out of the vehicle. Julia followed the two of them at a distance. She was deadly nervous. She looked around her, checking out the situation.
And what she saw did not help to calm her down.
They were not the only ones who had come to the hospital. Cars were stopping anywhere and everywhere in the car park. People were running to the hospital. There was a large crowd of agitated people, who all wanted to be the first to be treated. Many asked if anyone knew how long they could get possible treatment.
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|Female main character|
|The heroine’s first name is||555 x|
|The heroine’s surname is||16 x|
|The colour of the heroine’s hair is||2 x|
|The colour of the heroine’s eyes is||2 x|
|Young idealistic doctor|
|The first name of the German doctor (male) is||226 x|
|The surname of the German doctor (male) is||9 x|
|The colour of the German doctor’s eyes is||1 x|
|The colour of the German doctor’s hair is||1 x|
|Best friend of the female main character|
|The first name of the heroine’s best friend (female) is||189 x|
|The surname of the heroine’s best friend (female) is||6 x|
|Doctoral supervisor of the female main character|
|The first name of the Professor (male; dies) is||21 x|
|The surname of the Professor (male; dies) is||50 x|
|Former fellow student of the female main character|
|The first name of the heroine’s university friend (male) is||156 x|
|The surname of the heroine’s university friend (male) is||7 x|
|Other old university friend of the female main character|
|The first name of the accomplice in the conspiracy (male) is||109 x|
|The surname of the accomplice in the conspiracy (male) is||11 x|
|Professor and head of conspiracy|
|The first name of the mastermind behind the conspiracy (male) is||22 x|
|The surname of the mastermind behind the conspiracy (male) is||36 x|
|Security manager and lover of the Professor at the head of the conspiracy|
|The first name of the security manager (female) is||85 x|
|The surname of the security manager (female) is||3 x|
|Investigating inspector and former lover of the security manager|
|The first name of the investigator (male) is||88 x|
|The surname of the investigator (male) is||11 x|
|Inspector and colleague of the investigating inspector|
|The first name of the other inspector (male) is||40 x|
|The surname of the other inspector (male) is||9 x|
|Female inspector and colleague of the two other inspectors|
|The first name of the female inspector is||34 x|
|The surname of the female inspector is||3 x|
|Icelandic night-watchman who discovers the conspiracy|
|The first name of the night-watchman (male; dies) is||36 x|
|The surname of the night-watchman (male; dies) is||13 x|
|Wife or widow of the Icelandic night-watchman|
|The first name of the night-watchman’s wife is||56 x|
|One year-old son of the Icelandic nightwatchman|
|The first name of the night-watchman’s son is||16 x|
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