cover image Grim Reaper: End of Days

Grim Reaper: End of Days

Steve Alten, Variance (, $25.95 (487p) ISBN 978-1-935142-16-4

At the start of Alten's new apocalyptic series, a plan to infect the Iranian delegation at the UN with a weaponized bubonic plague called Scythe goes awry, unleashing the plague on Manhattan. Manhattanite Patrick Shepherd, a crippled vet, is quickly tapped by the Secretary of Defense as the new poster boy for the military. Though reluctant at first, he discovers that a Scythe vaccine exists; with his estranged wife and daughter trapped in Manhattan, he begins a desperate journey through the dying metropolis to save them, along the way picking up the reluctant hero's requisite companions and going through the expected spiritual awakening by having to confront disturbing truths about reality, divinity, and the human race's capacity to self-destruct. Veteran Alten takes on a modern-day retelling of Dante's Inferno through the lens of a frighteningly all-too-possible biological attack on a densely populated American city. But terrifying plausibility is quickly muddled by ham-fisted allusions to Inferno, extreme leftwing conspiracy theories, vague spirituality, and enough blood to flood the Hudson. By the implausible end, readers will wonder how they went from genuinely scared to amusingly confused. (Oct.)