There is a lot of talk these days that the Mayan Calendar predicted an end to civilization in the year 2012 at the Winter Solstace. The book has a prologue describing events that led to the fall of a Mayan civilization and one of the Mayan writing a secret diary (called a "codex") of events leading to the fall.
The book then moves forward to December 2012 and we are introduced to Gabe Stanton, a researcher for infectious diseases. He is called to a Los Angeles hospital to look at a patient who may have been infected with mad cow disease. This was a disease for which there is no known cure as it uses "prions" to affect the DNA rather than use germs. The disease prevents the victim from being able to sleep so the victim will first go mad and then die from sleep deprivation.
This involves the CDC and a search to find the source. Later it will be found that the disease probably originated from the same site as the secret codex was written because the victim had the codex in his possession.
The codex itself ends up in the possession of Chel Manu, a Guatamalan of Mayan descent. She begins the work of trying to decipher the codex but pretty soon the man who gave it to her falls victim to the same disease that killed the first man. Chel realizes that it has something to do with the codex and goes to see Gabe Stanton.
It is not long before more victims are turning up since the disease can be passed through physical contact and the prions themselves cannot be destroyed so once something comes in contact with the prions, they cannot be cleaned away. It will not be long before the disease will be spread everywhere if it cannot be contained.
Chel and Gabe realize that the only hope lies in possible clues from the codex. They race to find those clues and to then determine what the clues mean. Time is running out as it appears that 12-21-2012 may be the point of no return to civilization as we know it.
I wrestled with rating this book higher but could not. As exciting as the book sounds, most of the book is not. The author opens the book very strongly and has a fairly strong ending but the book seems to drag for long periods in the middle. Gabe's character is never properly developed and he seems to have a weird relationship with his recent ex-wife, Nina.
Chel is a lot more interesting but the author seems to use too much coincidence to tie her to the codex and to the location of where the events described by it take place. Overall this is a decent read that the author could have delivered a lot better.