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Authors: Kristen Elise

The Death Row Complex

BOOK: The Death Row Complex
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Praise for
The Vesuvius

The first Katrina Stone




“Gripping. Fascinating. Entrancing.
The Vesuvius Isotope
is 2013’s top thriller!”
-Carolyn Hart, author of
Escape from
“Elise takes us into historic, cultural, medical, and scientific arcana likely to surprise you at every turn… in this brainier-than-Dan-Brown mystery journey.”
-Dan Burstein, co-author of
Secrets of the
“I really enjoyed this mystery. There was obviously a lot of research that went into the writing of this story and I feel as if I learned a lot, but it didn’t feel as if I were being ‘taught.’ By the end, I really cared about the characters, and the pages almost couldn’t turn fast enough to find out what happened. Very exciting!”
-Catherine M. Walter, author of
The Harmony of
“A fast-paced mystery based partially on scientific possibility and partially on ancient historical conundrum, this story kept me intrigued… First-person narrative and thrilling escapades make the story an exciting escape while the subject matter makes it interesting.”
-Joyce Brown, mystery author
“Katrina Stone is a smarter, sexier version of Robert Langdon. If you like a great murder mystery with a strong female lead, this is for you!”
-KK, Seattle, WA
“This novel is an absolute pleasure to read, its fast pace action combined with history and science liken it to Indiana Jones!”
-Kanaida, Waterlooville, U.K.
“Simply superb. I started reading this one, and abandoned the rest I had been reading along with just to finish this.”
-Sakshi, Bangalore, India
“A perfect beach read with a little bit of mystery, adventure and a lot of suspense… If you enjoy stories about travel, history, libraries, archives, and especially ancient Egypt, then you will surely enjoy this.”
-Khaola, Constantine, Algeria
“This book captures you from the very beginning. It is filled with murder, mystery, magic, medicine, and history. The author delivers the story in a unique and page turning way. I enjoyed every minute of it.”
-Kristine, Ontario, Canada
“This is a gem!… Being an Egyptian… I was a bit apprehensive starting it. Because whenever I read something related to either Ancient Egypt or the modern one, I get this cringe and I’m always disappointed… This book restored my faith—there’s someone out there who gets it. Great work, clearly, my new favorite author.”
-Kariema, Giza, Egypt
“This was my 69th book of the year and my favorite so far. Set in San Diego (my hometown), Italy and Egypt, the story is rich in history and kept me enthralled throughout the entire book. Kristen Elise has written a smart, intellectually stimulating, medical mystery that kept me on the edge of my seat. This is a book I highly recommend. I am eagerly awaiting her next book.”
-Jeanine, San Diego, CA

The Vesuvius Isotope
was a gripping adventure through the Mediterranean as well as through time.”
-Hari, Raleigh, NC

P.O. Box 178963
San Diego, CA 92177

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, incidents, and references to the pharmaceutical industry are strictly products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, persons, organizations, or companies, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2015 by Kristen Elise, Ph.D.

Cover art and formatting by Damonza.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permission Coordinator,” at the address above.

Library of Congress Control Number: 2015905633

ISBN: 978-0-9893819-2-5 (print book)

ISBN: 978-0-9893819-3-2 (ebook)

Ordering information: Quantity sales. Special discounts are available on quantity purchases by corporations, associations, and others. For details, contact the publisher at the address above.

Manufactured in the United States of America



For my

Author’s Note

Bacillus anthracis
, the bacterium that causes anthrax, is one of only six microorganisms classified by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as Category A: Highest Priority. Defining characteristics shared by these microorganisms include ease of transmission, replication, and dispersal, and high mortality rates. Their potential as biological weapons is apocalyptic.

Vaccines against anthrax have been in use in the United States since the 1950s. Their efficacy in humans is highly controversial, and their use is prophylactic only. Once infection has occurred, anthrax vaccines have no effect.

Confirmed cases are treated rigorously with antibiotics. However, antibiotic treatment is only effective prior to the onset of early symptoms, which resemble the flu. Subsequently, the bacterium releases a toxin, termed lethal factor, which does not respond to antibiotics. This toxin is ultimately responsible for the devastating effects of anthrax.

The following work describes a fictional strain of anthrax that has been genetically engineered to exhibit exceptionally high potency. With the appropriate starting materials, such a bacterial strain could be generated in any molecular biology laboratory. It is for this reason that the Department of Homeland Security strictly controls access to these starting materials in the United States.

This story is fictitious, but the science is accurate and based on legitimate research. In fact, it was my own work with anthrax, and a chilling discovery I made by accident, that inspired the events in this novel.


OVEMBER 29, 2007
6:57 A.M.

By the time they caught up with him, he had forgotten to keep running. Lawrence Naden was incoherent and scarcely recognizable—the sloughed, discarded skin of a human being.

It had been a rainy week in Tijuana. A small river of brown water carried trash along the gutters of the squalid street. Piles of refuse collected in rough areas, creating dams that would eventually break with the weight of the water and garbage behind them.

A burst of static abbreviated the heavily accented warning from a megaphone. “
You’ve got nowhere to go, Naden!
” The officer holding the megaphone motioned, and several
carrying M16 rifles moved steadily across a sloping yard.

Except for a handful of onlookers, most of them ragged children, the street was deserted. The majority of adults had characteristically fled at the first rumor of approaching law enforcement.

This time, however, the uniformed team filing through the
was not in pursuit of drugs. The
were looking for a single individual.

A few stepped onto the porches of flanking shacks, peering suspiciously through dirty windows or through plastic taped over holes where windows had been. But most congregated at one rickety house. As they surrounded it, they shouldered the rifles and instead began drawing pistols.

Another burst of static. A brief command from the megaphone. And the front and back doors of the house were kicked in.

The men entering the house were greeted by the rank combination of sweet-smelling rotting food, human waste, and burning chemicals. The front room was abandoned but had recently been occupied, as evidenced by a smoldering spoon on a card table against one wall. Needles and syringes, plastic bags, and glass pipes littered makeshift tables, moldy couches, and the concrete floor.

BOOK: The Death Row Complex
5.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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