I always look forward to diving into a debut novel. It’s a scary moment for the author the minute you let go of your work and lay it open to critique by the whole world. There’s no taking it back. You can’t claim, months later, that you didn’t mean to write it in quite that way. The die is cast.

And you pretty well know that it’s unlikely to be perfect and a potential million seller. The writing world doesn’t work like that, though it throws up the very occasional lottery winner for reasons that are often unfathomable.

And I, as a sometime author, always learn stuff from other writers. In Carrie Rubin’s excellent debut novel there is a single and totally unexpected ‘gasp’ moment. If I wasn’t already hooked by the enthusiasm of her writing I was at that moment.

The Seneca Scourge is a medico thriller playing on our lurking fear that there is a disease pandemic around the corner. They have happened before and there are periodic scares of a new virus strain about to escape its origins and run amok. Our female protagonist Sydney McKnight is a newly-qualified doctor at Boston General when the first, unexpected deaths occur. The author uses her own professional experiences to describe how an already fully-stretched hospital suddenly has to find new ways of coping with this new and frightening turn of events.the-seneca-scourge-1-3

McKnight is as frantic as anyone to find the answer before it’s too late. She is driven to break into the apartment of famous virologist Casper Jones. Here is the ‘gasp’ moment which drives the story, literally, into a new dimension. Read on to see if the world survives!

A pacy novel, always moving onwards. The author is comfortable in her medical knowledge and language though the likes of me have to take her word for it. Well-defined characters set against the background of a busy hospital and McKnight battles to retain her professionalism while dealing with some heartbreaking situations and even the loss of friends and colleagues.

Ms Rubin has set up the prospect of a good series here if that is her intention. An excellent debut.