Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Calling his bluff

“You just bluffed to an audience of five thousand scientists,” I say, grinning.  “Ballsy.”
“I didn’t bluff!” Jeff says, and he is red in the face but laughing.  “I said we’re working on it, and we are.  We’ll get there!  Just wait!”
I shake my head.  “So your lab is going to single-handedly solve this puzzle that the Department of Defense has been struggling to solve since 2001?”
“You’re one of those guys who won’t ever ask for directions, aren’t you?”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Just that you’re the type of person who won’t accept anyone’s help.”
“How do you know that?  You don’t know me!”
“Oh, I think I do.  It's like looking in a mirror. But what if I told you I already know the answer?  What if I said that I have proven the full mechanism of action for anthrax?”
“I’d think it’s a huge bummer that the woman I was just thinking of inviting out to dinner turned out to be a total crackpot.”  This time, he is the one with the smug grin on his face.
“Oh, really?  So then, you’re convinced that you can solve it, but it’s absolutely impossible that I could have?”
“Pretty much,” he says, but he jumps back as if I might hit him.
“OK,” I say.  “I’ll make you a deal.  Take a crackpot to dinner, and I’ll bring some of my recent data with me—the stuff I am not yet discussing in public.  But first, what are the stakes?  What do I get if I’m right?”
“Dessert?” he offers, and I refrain from asking what delectable treats are on the menu.

Excerpt from The Vesuvius Isotope, the first Katrina Stone novel. Buy The Vesuvius Isotope in print or ebook.

From the ancient ruins beneath Mount Vesuvius, a two-thousand-year-old document has emerged. It is the only text ever attributed to the ambitious, inquisitive, and cryptic last pharaoh of Egypt...

When her Nobel laureate husband is murdered, biologist Katrina Stone can no longer ignore the secrecy that has increasingly pervaded his recent behavior. Her search for answers leads to a two-thousand-year-old medical mystery and the life of one of history’s most enigmatic women. Following the trail forged by her late husband, Katrina must separate truth from legend as she chases medicine from ancient Italy and Egypt to a clandestine modern-day war. Her quest will reveal a legacy of greed and murder and resurrect an ancient plague into the twenty-first century.

Kristen Elise, Ph.D. is a drug discovery biologist and the author of The Vesuvius Isotope and The Death Row Complex. She lives in San Diego, California, with her husband, stepson, and three canine children. 

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