The new book from cancer and neurodegenerative disease researcher Smith (The Dimensions of Experience: A Natural History of Consciousness, 2009) is a medical suspense novel exploring the high stakes world of cancer research.
On the very night that he makes a major breakthrough, cancer researcher Alan Rupert’s euphoria is cut short when he is knocked unconscious and abducted. Although he escapes his captors, he does so without acquiring any information helpful to authorities, save the location where he was held. Returned to his lab at the University of Minnesota, Alan views his colleagues with new suspicion. Who is trying to harm him, and why? After a second attempted kidnapping during a conference, Alan pursues his investigation with renewed determination, assisted by his new lover Laurie Gudefrut. Unwittingly stumbling upon a cigarette-smuggling ring, Alan gathers DNA from the hired guns in hopes of identifying them. When that fails, he employs his disease specialization to make health predictions—information he uses to bait the thugs. Back in the lab, he tries to entrap his suspects, a strategy that allows him to discover his enemy but almost costs his life. Rife with red herrings, the book is a surprisingly quick read, with research information presented in a manner comprehensible to nonscientists. Savvy mystery readers may identify the culprit early on, but the motive will still come as a surprise. Alan Rupert is a likeably geeky scientist, even if slightly sexist. The curious detachment of the university police from whom Alan seeks assistance seems unrealistic, as does the general lack of concern among his colleagues in regard to the threats to Alan’s well-being. However, these minor flaws do not detract from the enjoyment many readers—particularly fans of medical suspense—will derive from this novel.
A fast-paced, twisty book of scientific research enlivened by crime.