Summary and book reviews of Isolation Ward by Joshua Spanogle

Isolation Ward

By Joshua Spanogle

Isolation Ward
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  • Hardcover: Feb 2006,
    400 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2007,
    624 pages.

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Book Summary

Straight out of today's hospitals and labs – and tomorrow's headlines – comes a frightening, scalpel-sharp thriller from medical insider Joshua Spanogle. In an astounding debut, Spanogle takes us on an all-too-real race against time…as a young doctor enters the dark side of scientific research, desperate to stop a terrifying epidemic before it is too late….

In Baltimore's St. Raphael's Hospital, three newly admitted patients are among society's most helpless citizens: female residents of Baltimore's group homes for the mentally impaired, their bodies racked by a virus the likes of which no one at St. Raphael's has ever seen.

Dr. Nathaniel McCormick is one of the first on the scene. A young investigator from the Centers for Disease Control, Nate is paid to explore the bizarre, the exotic, and the baffling–from superviruses to bioterrorism. But as soon as Nate begins to investigate the lives and habits of the victims, he knows something is terribly wrong. Using all his skills as a medical detective, Nate soon zeroes in on the "vector"–the one person who had sexual contact with the first victims. And when that suspect is found murdered, Nate fears that the disease he's chasing may not be an act of nature, but of man.

With his brash style angering his superiors and fellow investigators alike, Nate turns to an old colleague and former lover, Dr. Brooke Michaels, for help. Together the two investigators follow a twisting trail of clues to a discovery that is at once groundbreaking and unspeakable. And as a circle of treachery tightens around him, Nate is about to confront the most chilling revelation of all–and a past Nate himself has been trying to escape.

At once a taut medical thriller and a riveting psychological portrait of a young doctor on the edge, Isolation Ward is a tale of runaway tension–with a brilliant "what-if" premise that is harrowing…heartbreaking…and impossible to wrench from your imagination.

Chapter 1

St. Raphael's was an old Catholic hospital, struggling to maintain its independence in the face of overtures--friendly and outright aggressive--from Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland. The hospital sat in the middle of a decayed neighborhood in the southwestern quadrant of the city, surrounded to the north and west by housing projects and to the south and east by a mix of old factories and abandoned row homes. The hospital served the needy in the immediate area, but extended its reach to the working-class neighborhoods of Pigtown and Locust Point. The last I heard, it was hemorrhaging money and talks with Hopkins and Maryland had started up again, this time at St. Raphe's behest. The former belle at the ball, now trying to dance with anyone who'd have her. Rumor had it the powers that be--admin at St. Raphe's, the Catholic ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

The action moves at fever pitch, with beautiful women, a really, really nasty villain, lots of medical lingo and liberal amounts of gratuitous violence from which our protagonist recovers with miraculous speed. Medical thriller aficionados wake up - there's a new player in town!   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

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Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Spanogle is a funny, smart and skilled writer at the beginning of what readers will hope is a long and prolific career.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Readers of this engrossing and intellectually wrought first novel will happily await Spanogle's next.

Entertainment Weekly

Combines a wonderfully flawed yet stereotypically smart-ass hero with a plot that moves as rapidly as a lethal virus."—Entertainment Weekly, grade A-

The Washington Post - Patrick Anderson

Joshua Spanogle's first novel is a smart, fast-paced medical thriller ... To know a profession cold and to be a born writer is a rare blessing. Scott Turow also comes to mind.

Book Reporter

At once a taut medical thriller and a riveting psychological portrait of a young doctor on the edge, Isolation Ward is a tale of runaway tension --- with a brilliant "what-if" premise that is harrowing...heartbreaking...and impossible to wrench from your imagination.

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Beyond the Book

Our hero, Dr. Nathaniel (Nate) McCormick, describes himself as "an officer in the Epidemic Intelligence Service, a branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention...part of the Special Pathogens Branch, which is in the Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases".

Does such an organization exist? Absolutely!

The Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) was established in 1951 following the start of the Korean War as an early warning system against biological warfare and man-made epidemics. Today, ...

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