cover image Isolation Ward

Isolation Ward

Joshua Spanogle, , read by Christian Rummel. . Random House Audio, $29.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7393-2434-9

Young and brash Dr. Nathaniel McCormick, a maverick investigator for the Centers for Disease Control, leads listeners through Spanogle's fever-paced debut novel. Rummel lends a vocal mixture of naïve exuberance and postgrad snarkiness to the action- and technology-packed adventure. A ghastly, impossible-to-diagnose or combat viral outbreak at a Maryland hospital (perhaps too lovingly described in all its flesh-peeling details) sends Nate rushing off in a reckless search for the source of the virus. The journey takes listeners deep into Robin Cook–misuse-of-science country, traveling in the company of a couple of stunning beauties—one naughty, one nice—and a villain sadistic enough to make James Bond's nemeses seem merely playful. With the witty repartee, relentless action, stomach churning violence and mind-melting techno-lingo, it's something of a surprise to discover that Spanogle has also written an oddly affecting coming-of-age novel. Rummel displays a fair amount of versatility, capturing tender moment as efficiently as he handles the less credible confrontations: namely sequences of profound physical abuse from which Nate recovers with jaw-dropping speed. Ah, to be young, romantic, heroic and a fast healer. Simultaneous release with the Delacorte hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 2). (Mar.)