Hybrid - Brian O'Grady Hybrid opens with an alarming e-mail exchange between the novel’s protagonist Amanda Flynn and Dr. Nathan Martin, the Director of Special Pathogens, at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. Amanda became personally acquainted with Dr. Martin and the CDC 7 years earlier as she was the sole survivor of an outbreak of a deadly virus named EDH1 in the jungles of Honduras. Amanda was a member of the American Red Cross serving in the country. She asserts that she was detained - essentially kept prisoner by the CDC in America for 3 months following the viral outbreak that wiped out the population of an entire village, including Amanda’s team. During what becomes a rapid exchange of e-mails, readers learn that Amanda vanished following her release from the CDC and despite having the resources of the FBI at his disposal, Nathan Martin has been unable to find her to continue his research into EDH1. However, there is much more to Amanda's story.

What has prompted Amanda to let her guard down and contact the good doctor, despite her lack of trust in him and his motivations? Amanda is convinced that Pandora’s Box has been opened and that EDH1 has been unleashed and is spreading amongst the populace of Colorado Springs. How does she know this? Incidence of a flu-like illness has been reported in the city coupled with an unusually high outbreak of random violence, events similar to those that occurred in Honduras. What Dr. Martin doesn’t know is that as a result of her exposure to the virus Amanda has changed, the virus gave her biological enhancements that are fascinating as well as terrifying. I would describe Amanda Flynn as an antiheroine, while she has endured a lifetime of losses, she is also quite creepy.

Using the e-mails to set a solid foundation for a meticulously crafted medical/psychological thriller that at the very least caused chills to run up my spine, author Brian O’Grady then weaves a well developed main group of characters into a very complex narrative. The most vile of these characters is the novel’s antagonist Klaus Reisch, a maniacal sociopath whose link to EDH1 and the powerful enhancements it has afforded him can only be described as terrifying. Reisch leaves a path of carnage in his wake and experiences no remorse, in fact he enjoys his 'exploits'.

Multiple characters are introduced in this story who all serve major and minor roles in advancing a plot that is rife with revelations and surprising twists and turns. However, the destinies of four key players intersect as a result of exposure to EDH1, a virus that is rooted in horrific terrorist plot.

Using graphically descriptive prose, Mr. O’Grady doesn’t spare details regarding the ravages of disease other than the virus and its impact on families. Further there are many violent, bloody action packed scenes, and again the grisly details are not spared. Brian O’Grady is a neurosurgeon and he does use a fair amount of medical terminology which for the most part explained. It is quite evident this novel was extremely well researched particularly regarding the fictitious EDH1 and it’s origins.

There is extensive up front character building in this novel and the author frequently steps back in the plot’s timeline to show where, and more important what is happening to a specific character. I found the use of this method assisted my understanding of what was happening at any given time, and reminded me of who was who. The author also penned humor and a miracle or two into Hybrid which made me smile and feel relieved.

As the plot of Hybrid progresses, the highest level of government is involved and special police forces and the military are mobilized across the country. I became completely engrossed in Hybrid and kept turning the pages to find out how the terrorists would be contained and millions of people saved. As well, two Goliath's emerge whose powerful biological enhancements result in a battle that is waged on a field well above a normal human’s understanding. I had to know how the evil guy would finally get his-I wasn’t disappointed. I will say, the ending of Hybrid does offer potential for a sequel. If you enjoy a thought provoking, very intelligent medical/psychological thriller you may like to give Hybrid a try.

4.5/5 stars.