by | May 4, 2022 | Extraordinary Guest Bloggers | 6 comments

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Chris Holm. Tess Gerritsen calls Child Zero “a terrifying look at a world gone mad and the possible plagues to come.”

Once a molecular biologist with a patent to his name, Chris’s novels are not only award winning, they’re addictive!

Gayle Lynds: A big excited welcome to Chris Holm, the remarkable author of the new fact-based thriller, Child Zero. Publishers Weekly (“bible” of the book world) gave it a Starred Review, heralding it as an “alarmingly plausible thriller.” Stephen King tweeted: “The twists go off like a string of firecrackers.” And Lee Child “highly recommends” it!

Chris Holm:

First off, many thanks to Gayle — and the rest of the Rogue gallery — for having me! It’s an honor to find myself in such fine company. Now let’s get to the part where I scare the living daylights out of y’all with dire warnings of impending doom.

Imagine a world reeling from the collapse of the antibiotic era. Diseases long thought beaten, such as pneumonia and tuberculosis, are once more major public health threats. The risk of postsurgical infections renders organ transplants and implants of any kind — hip, knee, cosmetic — a thing of the past. Steroid and chemotherapy treatments become weapons of last resort, because they decimate the immune system, leaving patients at increased risk of infection. Hospitals and healthcare workers are perpetually overwhelmed, like a COVID peak that never goes away.

Sounds like science fiction, doesn’t it? I wish it were. The fact is, the UN, CDC, and WHO have been sounding the alarm about just such a collapse for years. Their predictions read like something out of a horror novel… or a breakneck thriller. That’s why, as a scientist myself, I decided to set my latest novel, Child Zero, in a post-antibiotic near future.

Chris Holm's Child Zero promotion
Order here or at your favorite bookstore. Design by Gabriel Valjan.

My publisher, Mulholland Books, describes Child Zero as a scientific thriller in the vein of Michael Crichton about our species’ next great existential threat — but I like to think of it as the story of a little kid with a big secret that many powerful people would kill to learn.

Mateo Rivas, twelve, is the sole survivor of an assault on a shanty town in Central Park that left one hundred of his fellow villagers dead. Now he’s on the run through a Manhattan transformed by disease, with few resources at his disposal, and even fewer friends.

Detective Jacob Gibson is home caring for his sick daughter when his partner, Detective Amira Hassan, summons him to Central Park to investigate the attack. To Jake and Amy’s surprise, the medical examiner informs them that the victims were in perfect health prior to their murders — a virtual impossibility, given the encampment’s horrid living conditions.

When their only suspect dies in custody, Jake and Amy are taken off the case, but a chance encounter with some violent paramilitary types — and, more importantly, the frightened boy they’re chasing — thrusts them back into its center.

Soon they’re on the run from the authorities and paramilitary types alike, not to mention an apocalyptic death cult dedicated to hastening the twilight of mankind. The question their lives, and the lives of countless others, hinges upon is: “Why?”

Gayle’s husband, John Sheldon, kept disappearing to nap, but she caught him doing what he really wanted to do — read Chris Holm's Child Zero.
Gayle’s husband, John Sheldon, kept disappearing to nap, but she caught him doing what he really wanted to do — dive back into Child Zero.

I don’t want to reveal much more, for fear of spoilers. Suffice to say that, while every scrap of science in Child Zero is rooted in fact, it’s less a textbook than a jolt of pure adrenaline.

That said, if those who read it wind up learning a thing or two about a looming crisis before it’s too late to avert, so much the better.


Chris Holm is the author of the cross-genre Collector trilogy, which recasts the battle between heaven and hell as old-fashioned crime pulp; the Michael Hendricks thrillers, which feature a hitman who only kills other hitmen; thirty-odd short stories that run the gamut from crime to horror to science fiction; and the scientific thriller Child Zero. Chris’ work has been selected for The Best American Mystery Stories, named a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and won a number of awards, including the 2016 Anthony Award for Best Novel. He lives in Portland, Maine. 

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  1. Lisa Black

    That DOES sound terrifying! And I can guess that the ripple effects of such a situation would quickly travel through every single aspect of daily life.

  2. Karna Small Bodman

    What a concept — scary indeed! Now I can’t wait to read CHILD ZERO — Thanks so much for being our guest here today — we all will definitely spread the word about this incredible new thriller!

  3. Gayle Lynds

    I’m so taken by your mixture of science and thriller, Chris, and your characters are so vivid, so real. Really love CHILD ZERO! Thanks for your great blog!

  4. Chris Holm

    Thanks so much, all! I sincerely hope you enjoy it!

  5. John

    “CHILD ZERO” is a thrilling, terrifying story, a bit like “1984” in its grim prediction of the future. I could hardly put it down, except to stop sweating!

    • Chris Holm

      Kind of you to say, John!