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The Deep Zone: A Novel (with bonus short story Lethal Expedition): A Novel [Kindle Edition]

James M. Tabor
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $7.99
Kindle Price: $5.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

“Deep-earth adventure, scintillating science, and cutthroat intrigue collide with thrilling results that left me breathless and awed. . . . Truly impressive.”—James Rollins

Burned by her own government in a trumped-up scandal, brilliant microbiologist Hallie Leland swore she’d never return to the world of cutting-edge science and dangerous secrets. But a shocking summons from the White House changes all that. A mysterious epidemic is killing American soldiers in Afghanistan—and poised for outbreak in the United States and beyond. Without the ultrarare organism needed to create an antidote, millions will die. Hallie knows more about “Moonmilk” than anyone—but it can be found only at the bottom of the deepest cave on Earth. To get there, she and her team of experts must brave a forbidding Mexican jungle crawling with drug cartels, federales, and murderous locals. And in the supercave await far greater terrors: flooded tunnels, acid lakes, bottomless chasms, mind-warping blackness—and a cunning assassin with orders to make the mission a journey of no return.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from James M. Tabor's Frozen Solid and the short story "Lethal Expedition."

“Just like the perilous cave that serves as its backdrop, this story is dark and terrifying—but with a light at its end. The book should come shrink-wrapped with a seat belt.”—Steve Berry

“Brings  a new meaning to ‘frightening.’”—The Star-Ledger

Don’t miss James M. Tabor’s short story “Lethal Expedition” and a sneak peek of his new novel, Frozen Solid, in the back of the book.

Editorial Reviews Review

A Letter from Author James M. Tabor
Naming Names
If I had to sum up The Deep Zone’s protagonist in two words, they would be “beautiful” and “indomitable.” How do you name someone like that? Serendipity works in strange ways. Long before I wrote The Deep Zone, I was sitting on a stool next to Emmy Lou Harris in a bar where she was playing and I was working. On her lap she held a child. She said, “This is my daughter, Hallie. Hallie, this is Jim.”

“Hello, Hallie,” I said. “I love that name. It was my mother’s name, too.”

“That’s nice,” Hallie said. She was about five and radiated the same heavenly, ethereal beauty that marked her mother’s music.

“Would you mind keeping Hallie company while I do the next set?” Emmy Lou asked.

“My pleasure,” I said. “Is it okay if Hallie has a Coke?”

“Orange juice, please,” Emmy Lou said, and OJ it was.

Emmy Lou led off with “Queen of the Silver Dollar,” which always made me want to cry. Hallie and I played a game with straws. That was the extent of my relationship with Emmy Lou Harris and the beautiful Hallie. But such things stay with you, especially if a couple of months later you see Emmy Lou on the cover of TIME.

A few years after playing straw games with Hallie while her mother sang songs that made even hard saloonists weep, I was a cop on the streets of Washington, D.C. My commanding officer was Lt. Joyce Leland, as remarkable—and indomitable—a woman as any I ever met. Proof: at a time when there were few women cops, let alone commanders, she retired as Deputy Chief Joyce Leland.

Fast forward some decades to an author in search of the right name for his beautiful, indomitable heroine. There it was: Hallie Leland. Thank you, serendipity.


“Deep-earth adventure, scintillating science, and cutthroat intrigue collide with thrilling results that left me breathless and awed. . . . Truly impressive.”—James Rollins

“Just like the perilous cave that serves as its backdrop, this story is dark and terrifying—but with a light at its end. The book should come shrink-wrapped with a seat belt.”—Steve Berry

“One of the most ripping, primal thrillers I’ve read in a long while.”—David Morrell

“Brings  a new meaning to ‘frightening.’”—The Star-Ledger

“Thriller fans should pay attention.”—Library Journal

Product Details

  • File Size: 2067 KB
  • Print Length: 578 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B00E8U2XLM
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (April 3, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #103,006 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some things never change... May 20, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
By the time I was 10 years old, I was reading Clive Cussler, Robin Cook, Michael Crichton, and Peter Benchley. Some things never change. Apparently, I was born a lover of adventure, science, and thrillers, and I will be until the day I die. James M. Tabor is a descendent of those 70's greats I grew up reading. So, there is never a scenario when I'll see a book like The Deep Zone and not want to read it.

I actually got my first taste of both Mr. Tabor and this novel through his e-story, Lethal Expedition (Short Story). I was pleased to see that the writing in the novel was actually stronger than in this short story, but I was very glad to have taken the time to have read it. It's certainly not necessary, but the events documented in Lethal Expedition are referenced several times within the novel, and it was very helpful to have that background info firsthand, as it were.

On to the main novel. The first couple of chapters inform us there is secret skullduggery afoot of a pharmaceutical nature. Next, we're at the front in Afghanistan with a wounded soldier. After that, we're introduced to the novel's main protagonist, Hallie Leland, as she leads a cave dive in Florida. Soon enough, we learn that Hallie is not a dive bum, but rather a former government researcher, until she ran afoul of her federal employers. (Which is the story documented in Lethal Expedition.) She is, "Dr. Hallie Leland, BS in microbiology from Georgetown University, PhD in Microbiology, Johns Hopkins University. Extremophiles are her area of research. She is an accomplished climber and master technical diver. Her research has taken her into many caves.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply Entertaining! June 24, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I enjoyed almost every minute of The Deep Zone. I'll put that out there right off the bat. I'm a sucker for medical thrillers, the "epidemic threatens humanity" type of books. We have a tendency to think we are immune from epidemics these days, because it's not the Middle Ages, we have advanced diagnostic and medical treatments, and the predictors of doom have missed the last few times (SARS, H1N1 Flu). Reality: it's only a matter of time, and we could be in deep doo-doo considering the rampant resistance many bacteria have developed.

The Deep Zone works on that premise ... an outbreak of a resistant strain of highly virulent bacteria. Author James M. Tabor creates suspense right from the first chapter, where we meet "the visitor," a shadowy figure, hungry for fortune and significance, who signs on to be a mole at BARDA, a branch of the Centers for Disease Control. Throughout the first three-fourths of the book, we do not know the real identity of the visitor, in fact we do not hear about him at all, until we find out who he is. And BAM!, what a surprise that identity was for me. Unexpected, and totally viable. Awesome work.

The writing is vivid and full of imagery. Most of it is good. Some of it ... not so much ... but frankly I've read so much pablum writing over the years that even a few misses barely detracts from the overall wins of writing that has gusto and creates rich pictures and sounds inside your head. Descriptions of the BSL4 lab and the cave are very detailed ... it effectively creates a mental image of the places. Here's an example of audio imagery from p. 29: "The man's way of walking made his Teva sandals slap the floor like flyswatters smacking a tabletop." There are dozens of sentences in the book just as rich and even more so.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An impressive and promising debut June 8, 2012
By Jeremy
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In this surprising and compelling debut thriller, James M. Tabor introduces himself to the world as potentially one of the next great science-fiction writers. A book that seems absolutely destined to become a movie, The Deep Zone delivers it all--action, intrigue, mystery, an amazing subterranean setting, political and military strategy, a medical emergency, and even a little romance. What more could a thriller reader possibly ask for? Take the threat of a global pandemic, add to it a harrowing journey deep beneath the earth in search of a potential cure, throw in a couple of really bad guys and a beautiful heroine, and you've got the makings of success. This book, while unpolished in places, is surprisingly good for a debut author. It's scary, plausible, realistic, and highly entertaining. The characters seem authentic, and the science behind the story is for the most part absolutely believable--mostly because, if the author's note at the end can be believed, it's all real! The Deep Zone has received praise from well-known authors like Brad Thor, James Rollins, Steve Berry, and David Morrel, and it's easy to see why. James M. Tabor is already being hailed as the next Michael Crichton. I'm not honestly sure the world needs another Michael Crichton, but I'm glad we have a James Tabor! A very impressive and highly recommended book for fans of authentic science fiction.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've never read anything by Tabor before. But I will again for sure. This may be the fastest I've read through a novel ever. And this is no short book at 425 plus pages. What impressed me most was how believable the scenes from the book were. All very plausible and realistic. If you can do that while keeping me engaged enough to sit through a book this size and read it in 2 sittings, then you get my highest praise. Odd how you can take a random gamble on a book, or anything really, and sometimes it will really pay off. That be the case here. The synopsis of the book sounded interesting, so I took a chance. And was blown away by how good this guy can write. Why are you still reading this review? Go order the book now! Great characters, excellent breakneck plot, plausible action/situations, cinematic feel, and a whole lot of fun equal a must buy. Possibly the best action/adventure novel I've read in several years. Yeah, it's that good. So go get a copy and find out for yourself. I give it 5 out of 5 stars or a perfect 10 out of 10.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Short of great
A good story with lots of real science and a propulsive plot. And, I'm a sucker for a page turner.....But..... Read more
Published 28 days ago by Michael Mast
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great book
Published 3 months ago by Isaac Barajas
5.0 out of 5 stars great adventure
At last a female star along the same caliber as Clive Cusslers he man heroes. I hope read many more books starring Dr Leland. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jason Askerooth
5.0 out of 5 stars Keeps you going
Easy to get into..different story lines converging at the end...twists and turns in story kept me interested. Very enjoyable..I bought the next one
Published 5 months ago by Mary Erickson
5.0 out of 5 stars I liked the way it was written
I liked the way it was written, a very quick read, some of the situations were a little implausible but exciting non the less.
Published 6 months ago by Mary B Thomas
4.0 out of 5 stars good read
Tabor's stories always have a foundation of truth that illuminates the risks that our species faces. Wrapped in the form of mystery his stories are always enjoyable
Published 7 months ago by Frank M Holden
5.0 out of 5 stars A great new author for me
This book is awesome! our scientist,diver,caver and all around wonder woman,Hallie takes us on a quest where nothing or no-one is what it seems. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Miss Lyn
4.0 out of 5 stars A ripping yarn, in the truest sense
I would like to thank Mr tabor and "Scott" for their civilized discourse, which lead me to try the book. I finished it in a single afternoon. Read more
Published 8 months ago by E B Travers
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep Zone is great
The account is in my husbands name but I am the reader . I thought the book was excellent, once you start it is very hard to put down. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Richard Z. Hundley: Sri a few c chi moP
2.0 out of 5 stars couldn't finish
This book was slow developing, very dark, and so full of product placement brand names.
I don't care what brand of shoes they wore or what mall store they shopped. Read more
Published 8 months ago by granny
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More About the Author

FROZEN SOLID,the second novel in the Hallie Leland thriller series, will be published by Random House/Ballantine in March, 2013. Hallie travels to the South Pole to complete research begun by a scientist who died inexplicably. She quickly uncovers a cabal bent on changing the earth as we know it. Find much more at

James M. Tabor ( was born in Virginia, graduated from the University of Vermont, and has lived in Vermont since 1980. He earned an MFA from Johns Hopkins University and is a former Contributing Editor to Outside and SKI Magazines. His writing has also appeared in TIME, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Smithsonian, Barron's,and many other national magazines. He was the writer and host of the national PBS series, "The Great Outdoors." In 2007, he was the co-creator and Executive Producer for the History Channel Special, "Journey to the Center of the World."
He is the bestselling,international award-winning author of FOREVER ON THE MOUNTAIN (2007, and BLIND DESCENT (2010).

From James Tabor:
"I received my MFA in the depths of a recession and couldn't find a job to save my life. With a wife and new baby, and needing a paycheck, I joined the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C.--then notorious as "The Murder Capitol of America." Policing in D.C. was exciting, exhausting,and dangerous. For a white, upper middle class, son of the South,(my great-grandfather Russell Tabor was a cavalryman with Jeb Stuart) it was also an incredibly valuable, heart-opening, and rewarding experience. To put it bluntly, a lot of cops were dying then, and if incredible African American training officers had not taken me under their wings, I might not be writing to you now.) I hope to write a memoir of those days on the street at some point--a kind of "Training Day" in reverse. Or maybe it'll morph into a novel.
That was one kind of extreme experience. Over the decades, research for my nonfiction writing introduced me to a lot more: mountaineering, hang gliding, scuba diving, caving, horse wrangling,windsurfing,and others. Those close encounters with what Hunter S. Thompson astutely called "edgework" now inform my fiction, as well.
My website,, has lots more details about the books, me, and my life. I'll end by saying that I love hearing from readers, both fans and critics, and promise to respond to every note I get. (Not always quickly, but I will respond.)"

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