The Judas Strain by James Rollins
ju·das strain, n. A scientific term for an organism that drives an
entire species to extinction.
From the depths of the Indian Ocean, a horrific plague has arisen to
devastate humankind--a disease that's unknown, unstoppable . . . and
deadly. But it is merely a harbinger of the doom that is to follow.
Aboard a cruise liner transformed into a makeshift hospital, Dr. Lisa
Cummings and Monk Kokkalis--operatives of SIGMA Force--search for
answers to the bizarre affliction. But there are others with far less
altruistic intentions. In a savage and sudden coup, terrorists hijack
the vessel, turning a mercy ship into a floating bio-weapons lab.
A world away, SIGMA's Commander Gray Pierce thwarts the murderous
schemes of a beautiful would-be killer who holds the first clue to the
discovery of a possible cure. Pierce joins forces with the woman who
wanted him dead, and together they embark upon an astonishing quest
following the trail of the most fabled explorer in history: Marco
Polo. But time is an enemy as a worldwide pandemic grows rapidly out
of control. As a relentless madman dogs their every step, Gray and his
unlikely ally are being pulled into an astonishing mystery buried deep
in antiquity and in humanity's genetic code. And as the seconds tick
closer to doomsday, Gray Pierce will realize he can truly trust no
one, for any one of them could be . . . a Judas.
The Wikipedia summary of the book includes:
In The Judas Strain (2007), SIGMA Force members seek to prevent an
outbreak that could threaten the entire planet. The outbreak's source
and the key to the cure are based on the Hindu temple complex of
In the beginning Dr. Susan Tunis, professor Applegate and her husband are in a yacht at sea:
Ten days ago eighty dolphins, Tursiops aduncus, an Indian Ocean
species, had beached themselves along the coast of Java. Her research
study centered on the long-term effects of sonar interference on
cetacean species, the source of many suicidal beachings in the past.
She usually had a team of research assistants with her, a mix of
postgrads and undergrads, but the trip up here had been for a vacation
with her old mentor. It was pure happenstance that such a massive
beaching occurred in the region—hence the protracted stay here.
They notice something strange and realize she's infected:
The glowing edge of the milky sea lapped at the yacht's keel. From the
depths below, a large shape rolled into view, belly up, but still
squirming, teeth gnashing. It was a massive tiger shark, over six
meters. The glowing waters frothed over its form, bubbling and turning
the milky water into red wine.
Susan realized it wasn't water that was bubbling over the shark's
belly, but its own flesh, boiling off in wide patches. The horrible
sight sank away. But across the milky seas, other shapes rolled to the
surface, thrashing or already dead: porpoises, sea turtles, fish by
Applegate took a step away from the rail. "It seems these bacteria
have found more than just algae to feed on."
Gregg turned to stare at her. "Susan . .."
She could not look away from the deadly vista. Despite the horror, she
could not deny a twinge of scientific curiosity.
She finally turned to him, slightly irritated.
"You were diving," he explained, and pointed. "In that water. All
"So? We were all in the water at least some time. Even Oscar did some
Her husband would not meet her gaze. He remained focused on where she
was scratching her forearm. The wet suit sometimes chafed her limbs.
But the worry in his tight face drew her attention to her forearm. Her
skin was pebbled in a severe rash, made worse by her scratching.
As she stared, bruising red welts bloomed on her skin.
She gaped in disbelief. "Dear God . . ."
But she also knew the horrible truth. its... it's in me.
Goodreads reviewer mentions the final scene:
translucent, glowing, telepathic immortal beings, resting in a secret
cavern until the time comes for them to reawaken.