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We All Fall Down


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About The Book

Not since Pandemic have we seen a thriller like this from bestselling author Daniel Kalla: The plague has hit Italy. Can Dr. Alana Vaughn find the source in time to save the world?

No person is left unscathed, no family untouched. Death grows insatiable.

Alana Vaughn, an infectious diseases expert with NATO, is urgently summoned to Genoa by an ex-lover to examine a critically ill patient. She’s stunned to discover that the illness is a recurrence of the Black Death. Alana soon suspects bioterrorism, but her WHO counterpart, Byron Menke, disagrees. In their desperate hunt to track down Patient Zero, they stumble across an 800-year-old monastery and a medieval journal that might hold the secret to the present-day outbreak. With the lethal disease spreading fast and no end in sight, it’s a race against time to uncover the truth before millions die.


We All Fall Down Chapter One
There he is again. Watching, always watching. Doesn’t the old bastard have anything better to do? Vittoria Fornero wonders as she rolls up the blueprint and tucks it under her arm.

The little monk has shown up at the site every day since the first crew arrived to tear down the old monastery. As always, he’s wearing a traditional black Benedictine habit with the hood down, exposing a wispy ring of white hair around his otherwise bald scalp. Every morning at about nine o’clock or so, he appears with a rusty fold-up chair held under one arm and a black satchel worn over the other. Sometimes he sips from a thermos or reads from a well-thumbed leather prayer book. But usually, like now, he just sits near the edge of the excavation pit and watches like a pigeon perched on a building’s eave.

Most of the time the monk blends into the scenery along with the site’s other fixtures such as the giant yellow diggers, piles of lumber, and mounds of rubble and rock. But this morning Vittoria has no tolerance for the uninvited spectator.

“Se n’è andata!” Vittoria calls out to him, as she bundles her flimsy windbreaker tighter to fight off another vicious chill. “Your relic, she is gone, old man, gone. And the funeral is over!”

In truth, Vittoria can still see the ancient brick and stone monastery in her mind’s eye: a simple Romanesque structure that was already crumbling on the south side of the cloister where part of the attached arcade’s roof had collapsed years before. Dilapidated as the monastery was, Vittoria had appreciated its decrepit charm. And even though she is an unrepentant atheist, she carries enough childhood memories of intimidating nuns to feel a bit uneasy over her role in having leveled the ancient house of worship.

The old monk responds to Vittoria’s calculated belligerence with a friendly wave, making her question his hearing as much as she already does his sanity. Regardless, Vittoria isn’t about to be appeased; not this morning, not after he has already compounded her workload and aggravated her piercing headache.

Vittoria wasted fifteen minutes in the cramped overheated trailer that passed for her office trying to calm one of the workers, a pimply-faced apprentice named Emilio.

“Listen to me, Emilio!” Vittoria cut him off in midsentence, unable to listen to another moment of his alarmism. “That freeloading monk is bitter about losing the roof over his head! Nothing more.”

“But, Vittoria,” Emilio muttered. “Brother Silvio . . . he says it’s not just the monastery.”

“What, then?”

“Brother Silvio, he says that the monastery . . . it is built on hallowed ground.”

“To a monk, maybe. But to us it’s just a construction site. No different from any other.” Although, she silently conceded, the crypt below the monastery had come as a surprise. The excavators had not expected to unearth such a complex cellar, with its convoluted network of passages. And all those tiny bones. When Vittoria had first glimpsed them, she instinctively thought of her own two children. But she was in no mood to discuss medieval architecture.

“What about Yas?” Emilio asked.

“What about him?” Vittoria demanded, sounding more defensive than she intended.

“The day before last, Yas wasn’t feeling so good,” he said. “And then yesterday he didn’t show up. I haven’t seen him since.”

“So what? He’s probably just hungover.”

“Yas doesn’t drink. And he’s not answering my texts or calls. Brother Silvio says—”

“Enough, Emilio! For the love of God!” Vittoria held up her hands. “Not another word! Or you’ll end up on the docks looking for work scrubbing the fishing boats. Just like where Yas will soon find himself!”

Vittoria digs her thumbs into her temples, trying to squeeze away the throb along with the memory of her conversation with the panicky boy. She wishes Emilio hadn’t mentioned Yas.

Her legs tremble and another chill overcomes her. The ecstatic TV weatherwoman promised record temperatures for Genoa this morning. The bright April sun has already risen high over the rolling hills above the city, where the site is nestled, but Vittoria doesn’t seem to benefit from its warmth.

Maria warned her that she was too sick to work. Of course, Maria was like that, keeping their twins home at the first sniffle. Vittoria can’t help but smile to herself. Life hasn’t always been easy for two of them, living together in a city as traditional as Genoa, but Maria is still the best thing to have ever happened to her. And, as usual, Maria was right. Vittoria can’t remember ever feeling worse. Her breathing is inexplicably heavy. Each step is an effort. Her head is on fire. But it’s her armpit that bothers her most. The bluish lump under it has swollen to the size of a robin’s egg and throbs like a toothache. Even the light contact against her overalls is agonizing.

But Vittoria hasn’t missed a day’s work in twenty years. She’s certainly not about to take time off now, not when the crew is behind schedule and the boss is so worried over the financing. Her first order of business today is to permanently rid the site of this interloping monk before he scares other workers and puts them further behind. She should have had the security guards deal with him weeks ago, but now she will just have to do it herself. She squares her shoulders and marches toward Brother Silvio.

As she reaches close enough to inhale a whiff of his coffee, Vittoria has to pause to catch her breath. An invisible flame ignites her innards from toes to scalp. Her knees tremble so violently she half expects them to clatter.

The old monk tightens the cap on his thermos and leans forward in his chair. His eyes twinkle. “What is wrong, my dear?” he asks. “Can I be of assistance?”

“Yes! You can get the hell off my—” A sudden coughing fit silences her.

Vittoria feels phlegm climbing up her windpipe and shoots a hand to her mouth. For a moment or two, she can’t breathe at all. When the hacking finally subsides, she senses sticky warmth in her grip. Panic seizes her, even before she opens her palm and sees the wad of congealed blood.

About The Author

Michael Bednar Photography

Daniel Kalla is an internationally bestselling author of many novels, including Fit to Die, The Darkness in the Light, Lost Immunity, The Last High, and We All Fall Down. Kalla practices emergency medicine in Vancouver, British Columbia. Visit him at or follow him on Twitter @DanielKalla.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (March 26, 2019)
  • Length: 384 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501196935

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Raves and Reviews

Praise for We All Fall Down

“A tightly plotted thriller, energetic and completely believable. Kalla knows how to build a suspenseful story that doesn’t stretch the bounds of plausibility. He also knows how to build realistic characters and put natural-sounding dialogue into their mouths, something many better-known medical-thriller authors often struggle to do. . . . [a] top-drawer thriller.”

“A fast paced thriller with an historical overlay and a dash of romantic tension.”

“A superbly written suspense novel, completely believable in its frightening premise and masterful in execution. Kalla inherits the mantle of Michael Crichton, devising a plot in which an ancient pestilence meets a scourge of human egotism and misplaced faith, resulting in the potential for a worldwide cataclysm. Much more than a medical thriller, We All Fall Down is both a vivid history lesson and a heart-pounding warning, resulting in a page-turning obsession.”
— STEVEN HARTOV, New York Times bestselling author of The Soul of a Thief

“A great thriller hero never hesitates—despite, or perhaps because of, her checkered past and uncertain future. By that standard, Dr. Alana Vaughn is the woman readers will want on their side when stalked by the most terrible of all plagues in We All Fall Down.”
JUSTIN SCOTT, author of The Shipkiller, Rampage, and the Isaac Bell adventure novels with Clive Cussler

Praise for Of Flesh and Blood

“This novel should appeal to any reader who enjoys a rich medical narrative that combines the past with the present and throws into the mix visionary doctors, supportive nurses, hospital politics, children with cancer, celebrity patients, a lethal infection, adultery, and unrequited love.”

“Daniel Kalla plunges us straight into the frenzied pace of the OR and a medical drama that spans a hundred years. He’s a strong storyteller who keeps his characters moving and struggling, and we’re right there, struggling with them, rooting for them.”

“Daniel Kalla deftly portrays the triumph and heartbreak of life-or-death matters.”
SUSAN WIGGS, New York Times bestselling author

“Daniel Kalla, a worthy successor of Robin Cook, shows as deft a hand in penning this compelling tale as he no doubt does in the operating room.”
EILEEN GOUDGE, New York Times bestselling author

Of Flesh And Blood is great story-telling. Daniel Kalla has written a remarkably compelling novel of vivid, driven characters and the hard choices they are forced to make.”
DAVID LISS, bestselling author

Praise for Cold Plague

“A terrific read.”

“A well-written novel . . . Kalla, an emergency-room physician, employs just enough medical realism to carry a wild tale through one cliff-hanger chapter after another.”

“Similar in many ways to Michael Crichton and even Dan Brown’s bestsellers, Cold Plague is testament to just how good commercial fiction can be: entertaining, informative, and downright fun.”

“Plenty of suspense and layering the kind of scientific detail the fans of the medical thrillers crave. Recommended to fans of Robin Cook and other such A-listers.”

Praise for Blood Lies

“Kalla’s well paced medical thriller has twists that surprise us, but always make sense.”

“Kalla strikes again with another perfect page-turner.”
LEE CHILD, New York Times bestselling author

“Fast-paced and smartly written . . . Kalla has quickly matured into a force to be reckoned with. . . . Blood Lies springs several fresh surprises on the reader (including one whopping great shocker).”

“Fans of Presumed Innocent will find welcome echoes of that modern classic in Blood Lies. The twists are well done, and Kalla has a gift rare in the thriller field for creating sympathetic characters.”
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, starred review

“Kalla continues his rapid rise in the thriller ranks with a gripping fourth novel.”

Praise for Rage Therapy

“Kalla navigates the emerging fields of impulse and rage control therapy, and the issue of doctor/patient abuse, turning it all into an ingenious thriller.”


“His first novel, Pandemic, was as fine a medical thriller as I've ever read; his newest, Rage Therapy, is a taut psychological thriller that will pull you into a world of sexual deviancy, murder, and mind games. A very good read.”
NELSON DEMILLE, New York Times #1 bestselling author

Rage Therapy is a compelling story. It’s layered and nuanced. Kalla might well grow to be the James Patterson or John Grisham of the medical world.”

Praise for Resistance

“Kalla builds suspense and keeps the medical action moving.”

“Daniel Kalla’s prescription for a perfect thriller includes snappy characters, a pace that sweeps up a reader and not too much technical jargon . . . the kind of magnetic story you can't put down. And the twist at the end of the book is the flourish that caps a strong story.”

“[Kalla] is back with another gripper.”

“[Kalla] continues his remarkable side career as the author of knowledgeable, but very scary medical thrillers.”

Praise for Pandemic

“Very much in the Michael Crichton school of cutting-edge scientifically rooted thrillers. Pandemic is an absorbing, compulsive thriller, the sort of book you could stay up too late reading. I’d advise against that, however. With all the bugs going around, you’re going to need your immune system functioning at full strength.”

“Kalla’s ripped-from-the-headlines plot and confident command of both language and medicine make this sobering book a pleasure.”

Pandemic starts fast and never lets up on the suspense . . . Kalla juggles the many narrative balls easily, manages to insert a little romance, puts his protagonists in plenty of danger and drives his complex plot to a rousing climax.”

Pandemic is an absorbing, compulsive thriller, the sort of book you could stay up too late reading.”

“Daniel Kalla expertly weaves real science and medicine into a fast-paced, nightmarish thriller—a thriller all the more frightening because it could really happen.”
— TESS GERRITSEN, author of Body Double

“Kalla is a rocket ship of a writer. He moves to the front of the pack with a thriller that will grab you from page one and never let you go.”
— KEITH ABLOW, author of Psychopath

Pandemic is fast, fierce, and frightening. Kalla delivers a shot of adrenaline in a medical thriller that really thrills.”
DON WINSLOW, author of California Fire and The Life and Death of Bobby Z

Pandemic is a totally compelling novel, one of those rare thrillers that lays out a scenario that is not only possible, but terrifyingly probable.”
— DOUGLAS PRESTON, author of Relic and The Codex

“At last! A new thriller writer worthy to join the Ludlum, DeMille, le Carré club. Not just a great read, a real treat.”
BEVERLY SWERLING, author of City of Dreams: A Novel of Nieuw Amsterdam and Early Manhattan

Pandemic is a sizzler. A killer epidemic that may go global—convincing and terrifying.”
BARBARA D'AMATO, author of Death of A Thousand Cuts and White Male Infant

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