Sinister forces stop at nothing to squelch a medical breakthrough in this adrenalized thriller.
You’d think everyone would rejoice over a cure for cancer, but if it’s a cheap and un-patentable cure, shadowy interests that profit from cancer treatments may find it more of a threat than a boon. That’s what Annika Guthrie and Elliott Lindell, researchers for competing pharmaceutical companies working on concurrent trials for rival chemotherapy drugs, didn’t count on. As alternative medicine enthusiasts, the pair have teamed up to secretly give their patients a cocktail of natural supplements and plant extracts formulated by Elliott’s brilliant computer model of cancer cells. Annika’s joy over the resulting miraculous remissions turns to dismay when said patients start dying off in suspicious accidents. But that’s par for the course in a medical-industrial complex where every slovenly lab tech is a spy and paramilitary squads are a cost of doing business. Soon everyone is after Elliott’s model, including Russian assassin Sydney (née Stalina) and a sinister outfit known as The Trust that is led by a never-seen man named Smoke whose cigarette-hoarsened voice on speaker-phone tirades suggests a looming need for the cure. Assisted by Annika and her long-suffering husband Peter, Elliott pinballs around the world on a complex and not quite coherent plan to save his life’s work (and his life). The author includes a bibliography on natural cancer treatments, but Elliott’s all-important cancer model is mainly a MacGuffin that propels a frenetic plot that makes no more sense than is strictly necessary. (One character hits on a strategy so sane and obvious—publicize the formula and sell it out of a Tijuana clinic—that you just know it will end badly.) Fortunately, Evers is a skillful writer who expertly choreographs a sprawling cast of colorful characters. He balances nifty oncology procedural with suspenseful intrigue and taut action scenes that teeter between agonizing stand-offs and jolting shocks. The result is an engrossing, well-paced thriller that will keep your heart rate up.
An entertaining debut that’s just what the doctor ordered.