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Pristine water—hidden for millions of years, untouched by pollution, and possessing natural healing powers—is found miles under Antarctic ice. The scientists who make this astonishing discovery stand to win worldwide acclaim and earn billions. While people around the world line up for a taste of the therapeutic water, a cluster of new cases of mad cow disease explodes in a rural French province. Dr. Noah Haldane and his World Health Organization team are urgently summoned.

Fresh from a brush with a pandemic flu, Noah recognizes the deadliness of a prion—the enigmatic microscopic protein responsible for mad cow disease—that kills with the speed and ferocity of a virus. Despite intense international pressure to declare the outbreak a random occurrence, Noah suspects that factors other than nature have ignited the prion's spread among animals and people in France. Facing a spate of disappearances and unexplained deaths, Noah uncovers a conspiracy that stretches from St. Petersburg, Russia, to Beverly Hills, and from the North to the South Pole. He soon realizes that the scientific find of the century—a lake the size of Lake Superior buried three miles under Antarctica—might hold the key to a microscopic Jurassic Park.

With a billion-dollar industry hanging on his silence, Noah has to stay alive long enough to sound the alarm.

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