Plague Ship by Frank Slaughter

Published: 1976

Genre: medical thriller

Length: 254 pages

Setting: South America, 1970s

Interest: The apartment we rented in Seattle had a copy of the book. It looked interesting, and more importantly, like something I had a chance to finished while we were there. I didn’t manage to finish it in Seattle, but luckily the library had a copy.

Summary: Dr. Grant Reed, an epidemiologist, has been called to the side of his gravely ill brother, Guy. Guy and his assistant, Lael, discovered a tomb in the Andes full of amazing images. Unfortunately, that tomb was also full of a virulent bacteria that Guy spread by collecting a bone sample for radiocarbon dating. Guy is too far gone to save, even with the help of the medical staff on board the hospital ship, Mercy, which just happens to be nearby. Now there is an epidemic to halt, which isn’t limited to just Peru. Using plasma from Guy and recovered patients, Grant keeps the medical staff on the Mercy safe. However, the natives blame the ship for the plague, so they are cut adrift from their dock in Peru and no one will allow them to dock. Because of accidental contamination of a culture during a storm, Grant is finally able to come up with a vaccine.

Final thoughts: An enjoyable little thriller, although I didn’t need the love interest between Grant and Lael. That seemed a little forced, although the sex is all implied. I did find it interesting that writers saw the fear of a global pandemic even back in the 70s. Usually Africa is the source of the new disease, but Slaughter chose Peru and an old disease as the plague source instead of a zoonotic source. It’s definitely a medical thriller since we spend a lot of time with Grant as he’s trying to find a cure, with the limited resources available on the Mercy. There’s also conflict between the natives and the white medical staff to add to the tension. Overall, I enjoyed the book.

Title comes from: The hospital ship Mercy was full of plague victims and couldn’t find a port at which to dock

Reading challenges fulfilled: 59/100 in my Finally to 100 Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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