Adventures in storytelling by Bob Rector

VIRAL INTENT by Judith Townsend Rocchiccioli

An unidentified virus in the CCMC Emergency Department is killing dozens of people, a horrific death of a popular politician in the French Quarter has the NOPD hopping, and internet chatter suggesting the unspeakable has chilled the hearts of law enforcement all over the world. Read how Alex and Jack learn to play well with the CDC, FBI, and Secret Service to save the streets of New Orleans.



It’s difficult to imagine a more timely thriller than Judith Townsend Rocchiccioli’s “Viral Intent.” The action takes place in the Big Easy, the perfect setting for a group of terrorists determined to launch a deadly virus that will destroy many thousands of American lives.

Luckily our protagonist, Alex Destephano, a long-time New Orleans resident, is on the job, along with her police chief buddy Jack Francoise. Together they’ve got to stop the attack before the president and a number of prominent members of congress (among them Alex’s grandfather) arrive for a major political gathering. The clock is ticking and New Orleans is feeling anything but easy.

Alex has all the requisite traits we expect in today’s heroines: beauty, brains, breeding, and a prominent and respected position among New Orleans’ movers and shakers, for whom she manages to hold the perfect dinner party in the midst of impending doom. Despite these glowing attributes, Alex is failing miserably at outfoxing the terrorists. The bad guys are winning and are escalating their attack to a very personal level. That’s what makes this thriller stand out from the usual.

Just as in real life, territorial disputes erupt among the different government agencies involved. As the story evolves, the cast of characters grows and Alex doesn’t know who to trust. Losing this battle is not an option, but more and more it looks like the only outcome.

Ms. Rocchiccioli has crafted a fast-paced nightmare scenario that is all too real. Just turn on your TV to the evening news. I was not only rooting for Alex and Jack, but also for one of my favorite American cities which has already demonstrated its vulnerability to catastrophic events. Her depiction of this colorful and unique city is right on target. Perhaps it’s a tribute to Ms. Rocchiccioli’s writing skills that I found myself thinking, “Oh no, not again.”

A top-rate thriller. Highly recommended.


Judith Townsend Rocchiccioli is a native Virginian and holds graduate and doctoral degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia. She has been a practicing clinical nurse for over 25 years and is currently a professor of Nursing at James Madison University and the author of numerous academic and health-related articles and documents. Her first novel is based on her experiences living and teaching in New Orleans. When not teaching or writing, Judith is an avid silk painter and multi-media artist. She lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her family and six dogs.

2 thoughts on “VIRAL INTENT by Judith Townsend Rocchiccioli

  1. This is a great review, Rector. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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