cover image The Perfect Predator: A Scientist’s Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug

The Perfect Predator: A Scientist’s Race to Save Her Husband from a Deadly Superbug

Steffanie Strathdee and Thomas Patterson. Hachette, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-316-41808-9

Epidemiologist Strathdee and psychiatrist Patterson are vacationing in Egypt in 2015 at the onset of this gripping and intriguing medical thriller. After crawling into a pyramid, Patterson falls violently ill. Strathdee, his wife, initially attributes his sickness to food poisoning, but doctors in an Egyptian clinic soon diagnose acute pancreatitis, later found to be complicated by a football-sized pseudocyst infected with an antibiotic-resistant superbug. Eventually medivaced home to San Diego, Patterson is hospitalized while Strathdee balances her role as a loving caregiver with a “pit bull scientist’s” determination to save her 69-year-old husband. He suffers several bouts of septic shock, goes into coma, and is placed on a ventilator. With the support of a global team of doctors and researchers, Strathdee pursues a nearly forgotten century-old treatment called phage therapy, which employs a virus administered through drains and IV, “the perfect predator,” to wage battle against the menacing bacteria. After eight weeks of phage therapy and a total of nine months in the hospital, Patterson is discharged to his home, where he continues to improve. Along with the chronicle of Patterson’s struggle is the authors’ incisive commentary on the alarming superbug problem worldwide, which they assert is perhaps even more concerning to the human race than climate change. This page-turner of a couple’s determination to survive also serves as a dire warning regarding the consequences of the overuse of antibiotics. Agent: Gail Ross, the Ross Yoon Agency. [em](Mar.) [/em]