Madhab Limbu had the bad luck to be born deaf in a Nepalese village far from the kind of medical care that could have given him hearing as an infant, but the good luck to meet Dr. Janet Morley when he was 12. Janet, a Leicester GP who came to Nepal in the wake of a messy divorce, fought for a year to bring Madhab back to England, where surgery opened his ears. Unfortunately, Madhab, who sat out the crucial language-development years in silence, has the speech patterns of a two-year-old—until Janet takes him to see her old schoolmate, Dr. David Somers, who’s developed a radical brain treatment to encourage the growth of new cells capable of processing and producing language. Because the treatment is still experimental, there’s no guarantee that it will help Madhab—or even that it won’t deal his brain some irreversible harm. But Madhab turns out to be quite safe compared to everyone else. Janet’s house is broken into; David turns out to have told dismaying lies about the colleagues who developed the treatment; nice Michael Shahid, whose masters at MI5 are interested in funding David’s research for ethically dubious reasons, finds that Janet’s home has been bugged; then, finally, David and his assistant are murdered and his records destroyed, leaving Madhab marooned in the middle of the perilous treatment.
Bradshaw (The Wrong Reflection, 2000, etc.) generates considerable suspense over what’s going to become of Madhab, though considerably less over who’s responsible and why.