In Hull’s (The Sun God is a Ham, 2013, etc.) novel, an unemployed writer’s plan to make easy money turns into an unexpectedly deadly pursuit.
Soon after leaving his job waiting tables at a high-end New Haven, Connecticut, restaurant, 28-year-old Jack Bodwell finds that his money troubles distract him from writing fiction, his labor of love. So he hastily decides to participate in a lucrative clinical trial at a mysterious brain-research facility nestled in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. The trial, run by venerable neurosurgeon Henri Simmons, involves subjecting volunteers to “brainwave therapy”—a procedure that aims to cure Alzheimer’s disease. Upon arriving in quaint Oak Glenn Falls, where the trial facility is located, Jack meets the acting sheriff, Wanda, who expresses concern about the fact that she has yet to see a single volunteer discharged from the program. Jack immediately senses that something’s off, but the of his new surroundings initially distracts him; the facility’s grounds feature rambling flower gardens, and all nurses are formidably attractive. One nurse, Claire Montieri, particularly intrigues him, and the two quickly develop a flirtatious rapport. As his stay progresses, he starts to confide in Claire about his suspicions regarding the doctor’s true intentions—which may involve lethal malpractice. From this point on, the novel picks up speed as Jack, Claire, and other enlightened characters rush to escape the facility and expose the truth. Up to the end, Hull skillfully moves the tense, multipronged plot along at a brisk pace, making for a gratifyingly lively read. That said, the characters lack depth, and emotional tenor of many of their interactions tends toward the melodramatic. However, the author displays what appears to be an appreciable knowledge of complex medical procedures. He also shows expertise in classical music, in which Simmons has a keen interest; Hull has past experience as a professional musician and bandleader.
A lightweight but fast-paced medical thriller that delivers engaging suspense.