I think this novel belongs to a series. It starts with a mysterious virus killing sea life. A lady (microbiologist or so) was in the sea searching for something to aid her research. The virus gets into her body. Her husband is a detective who try to find out what the cause is?

The story also says about some old traveler whose ship and crew were mysteriously vanished, implying that they were attacked by the same virus.

Something like the virus originated from a pond in Angkor wat.

In the end, the lady's skin becomes transparent. She goes to a cave where she finds others like her who can telepathically contact each other. They get into some trance state.

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    LOL, I'm very amused to have stumbled upon this by looking for some old magazine articles I wrote. I AM Susan Tunis, the patient zero in Judas Strain. My buddy Jimbo decided to torture me for a few hundred pages. Not the only novelist buddy to fictionalize and torture me, I might add! Good book, otherwise. I hope you enjoyed it. Nov 11, 2021 at 19:20

1 Answer 1


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 Angkor Wat.

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 the hundreds.

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.

"Susan ..."

She finally turned to him, slightly irritated.

"You were diving," he explained, and pointed. "In that water. All day."

"So? We were all in the water at least some time. Even Oscar did some dog-paddling."

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.

"Susan ..."

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.

  • 1
    Dang, I saw this and I was "I just finished reading that book!". Teaches me to check SFF before coffee, not after. :p
    – JohnP
    Feb 23, 2018 at 14:30

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