From the jacket

Marine engineer Kristin Baker advises the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu on environmentally sustainable development projects. After meeting US Navy Commander Nicholas Page, she discovers her unwitting role in the Exodus Project, a scheme to protect the West’s interests in the face of climate change. But what neither know is that a stealth virus has quietly become a global pandemic; one that health authorities cannot stop. For this virus hasn’t emerged from an African jungle or a remote Chinese province, it’s come from within our own DNA.

The Rhesus Factor was published in 2004 by Double Dragon, and reprinted by Musa Publishing in 2013. As the rights have just reverted to me, you can now download a full version of the book free of charge (2.7Mb 340 pages).

Reviews

Cause and effect, and for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Those principles are commonplace and indisputable. The Rhesus Factor by Sonny Whitelaw demonstrates with painful clarity that we ignore cause and effect at our peril. Perhaps the most frightening book of recent years, Whitelaw’s thriller builds an all too plausible scenario of what might happen should our ecosphere decide to apply an equal and opposite reaction to our actions.

Fast-paced and grounded in solid research, the book charts not only the breakdown of ecosystems in the wake of global warming, but the breakdown of society that will be an inescapable result. It is precisely in the devastating detail of the wreckage of everyday life that the book is at its most explosive. While Joe Voter may dismiss global warming as a theory that doesn’t affect him, the very real prospect of losing home, livelihood, educational facilities and medical care is bound to strike a chord.

—Dr. Sabine C Bauer, author of Trial By Fire

Although fiction, I now know that some of the events in the book could happen in the future. The effects of global warming are evident, as is how this has put stress on the world, leading to world events that include terrorism, environmental vandalism and a lifestyle that we do not want for our future generations. I encourage all members to buy this book when it becomes available.

—Hon. Barbara Stone, MP for Queensland, Australia. Excerpt from speech to Queensland State Parliament

A pacey thriller set in an all too believable future where mankind’s planetary mismanagement is putting civilisation in peril. Whitelaw weaves climate disaster, pollution, pandemics and nuclear terrorism into an exciting struggle for survival in the face of impossible odds.

—Gareth Renowden, author of Hot Topic, shortlisted for the Royal Society of NZ’s Science Book Prize.

The Rhesus Factor is a pacey thriller set in an all too believable future where mankind’s planetary mismanagement is putting civilisation in peril. Whitelaw weaves climate disaster, pollution, pandemics and nuclear terrorism into an exciting struggle for survival in the face of impossible odds.

—Gareth Renowden, author of Hot Topic, shortlisted for the Royal Society of NZ’s Science Book Prize.

– See more at: http://musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=6&products_id=712Excerpt#sthash.ESkaN2L0.dpuf

The Rhesus Factor is a pacey thriller set in an all too believable future where mankind’s planetary mismanagement is putting civilisation in peril. Whitelaw weaves climate disaster, pollution, pandemics and nuclear terrorism into an exciting struggle for survival in the face of impossible odds.

—Gareth Renowden, author of Hot Topic, shortlisted for the Royal Society of NZ’s Science Book Prize.

– See more at: http://musapublishing.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=6&products_id=712Excerpt#sthash.ESkaN2L0.dpuf

An exciting, fast-paced thriller, set in an all too possible near future. The science is as sound as the writing.

—Alan M. Landau, author of Airborne Rangers

If you want excitement, The Rhesus Factor is the book for you. This is a thriller similar to Matthew Riley’s books, but the quality is far better. The characters, the action, the setting are far more believable. Reading the book, I get a strong feeling that Ms Whitelaw knows what she is writing about…I dare you to read it, you may learn something about our immediate future.

—Dr Bob Rich, author of Sleeper Awake and The Making of a Forest Fighter

Extract 

Chapter 2

Maybe it was the unremitting panic, Jean Simmons decided. Certainly the lethargy that was overtaking her wasn’t due to stress. As with everyone in the White House, she viewed stress as a necessary food source, like caffeine. Panic was different. Panic was what happened when twenty-seven heads of state decided they just had to meet in Kamchatka to discuss what to do now that the Gulf Stream had shut down.

Not that the news had come as any surprise to President Blake and the Australian Prime Minister, Paul Anderson. They’d been expecting it to happen for years. And thankfully they’d made plans.

“Would you like to forward the updated memo on Dr. Kristin Baker to Commander Nicholas Page?” her computer prompted.

Jean turned her attention back to the screen. The State Department had come up with some bonehead plans before, but under the circumstances, this one might actually work. More importantly, it might keep Nick alive. “Okay. Encrypt it first, and then log off.”

“File sent, Dr. Simmons. Your flight to Kamchatka aboard Air Force One departs in forty-two minutes. Your car will be out front in six minutes.”

Jean pushed her hair from her face, closed her eyes, and fantasized about going home and sleeping for, oh, maybe a week. She might even find a few moments to finalize negotiations for her marriage dissolution.

Snorting softly, she opened her eyes and turned her chair to look through the window, vaguely noting the White House lawns were covered in a thin layer of snow. What year had the term divorce been replaced by “marriage dissolution”? There was hardly a senior member of the White House staff who hadn’t been or wasn’t going through the same process. They came to work every day, smiled, planned, plotted, connived, backstabbed, and played the ugliest most addictive game on the planet without thinking twice about being publicly declared unfit spouses. In fact, most wore it as a badge of honor, a declaration of their sacrifice in support of the administration. How noble.

Turning back to her desk, Jean delved into her handbag and pulled out her compact mirror to freshen her lipstick. Yeah, but how many of them had to deal with their husbands having an affair with a boy twenty years his junior? Perhaps it wasn’t uncommon, but it still rankled. Not only had she failed as a wife, she had failed as a woman.

She dropped the compact and lipstick into her pocket and grabbed her copy of the Kamchatka Statement. The issues it dealt with trivialized her personal problems. With all its superior technology, the Western world was finally being humbled by, of all things, an ocean current.

Suddenly, the door to her office burst open in a flurry of waving papers and angry voices. Shoving the Statement into her briefcase, Jean barked, “Does anyone around here understand the meaning of the word knock?”

The Director of the CDC, Andreas Clem, strode in. “I’m telling you, Jack,” he was saying to the short obese man trailing behind him, “the President better be informed before he leaves because the implications are already trickling out on social media networks. It won’t be long before some science journalist comes up with a very realistic prognosis.”

“There’s enough apocalyptic garbage being bandied about in Kamchatka without you adding to the hysteria,” Jack Obermann, the Assistant Secretary of Health, spat back.

Jean stood. “Gentlemen—”

Ignoring her, Andreas reached behind him, slammed the door shut and turned on Obermann. “Hysteria. You’ll know all about hysteria once this goes mainstream! Dammit, you’ve got this bureaucratic idée fixe that the CDC’s mandate is to react to rather than prevent epidemics. Hell, following the cholera pandemic the Republican Congress spent more money and resources on finger pointing than the military spent containing the outbreak. So here we are again.” He tossed his hands in the air. “You stuck your damned heads in the sand and hoped the problem would go away. Well it hasn’t! Jean.” He turned to her. “You tell him.”

“How nice of you both to remember this is my office.” Jean walked around her desk, shutting her briefcase as she went. “Tell him what, Andreas? That Earth’s defense mechanisms are about to wipe out the human plague with an immune response?” She was in no mood to be tactful, even to Andreas.

“You haven’t read my report, have you?” The CDC Director’s dark eyes narrowed. “God dammit, Jean, this is not some imaginary scenario we’re playing here. We’ve been collecting data on the Rhesus virus for six years—”

“So it can wait a couple more days,” Obermann interrupted. He placed a pacifying hand on Andreas’s arm while sending Jean an apologetic look. “I tried to tell him you were about to leave.”

Jean snorted. “You’re a real sweetheart, you know that, Jack?” Obermann was a political hack, incapable of taking responsibility for anything. He’d probably goaded Andreas into bugging her just for the hell of it.

Picking up her briefcase and pushing between the two men, Jean reached for the door. “If it’s that important, Andreas, text me an update and I’ll read it on the flight. If I think it’s got legs, I’ll set up a meeting with the Chief of Staff when we get back from Kamchatka.”

“What blood type are you?”

The urgency in Andreas’s voice made her pause. “Why?” She glanced over her shoulder at him. In spite of the notorious lack of heating in this part of the West Wing, his dark skin was pallid and a fine sheen of sweat beaded his top lip.

“Because at the rate the Rhesus virus is spreading, especially through DC, it’s entirely possible you’re already infected.” He turned to Obermann. “Both of you.”

Jean shook her head. They’d known about Rhesus for years; it was harmless. Something more was agitating the normally soft-spoken CDC Director. She noticed Obermann’s ruddy features had darkened and the spidery veins on his nose were throbbing. “Your blood pressure’s showing again, Jack.” She opened the door and stepped outside.

Andreas followed. “Jean—” He snapped his mouth shut when his gaze settled on someone on the far side of the busy bullpen. “Crap, I don’t believe it,” he muttered, crouching like a kid trying to hide from an irate parent.

Jean looked across the bullpen and saw Susan Teasdale. As a rule, journalists weren’t allowed access to this area of the White House. But Teasdale, a self-styled science reporter who spent most of her time attacking mainstream science, regularly found some pretence to drop by and gossip with the interns.

Closing her office door, Jean lowered her voice. “Okay Andreas, brief me in the car on the way to Andrews. If I think you have a case, I’ll have you cleared for the flight to Kamchatka because that’s the only way you’re going to see the President in any kind of hurry.”

Ten minutes later, Jean sat back in the plush upholstery of the limousine, trying to keep her voice steady as she talked to the head of the White House Secret Service detail. Back in her office, she’d thought she knew what panic was. Boy, had she been wrong. When she finished the call, she took a deep breath and turned to Andreas, who was sitting opposite her, chewing his thumbnail and peering out the window. “Okay, you’re onboard. Better call your wife and let her know you’re going to be late for dinner.” When he didn’t react, she let out a nervous laugh. “Guess what? I’m not the only one who’s immune. So is the President.”

His hooded eyes darted back to hers. “Given the implications, that’s the worst possible news.”