Scheming bureaucrats line their pockets while denying people much-needed medical care in this high-stakes debut thriller.
Maarten Keyser has terminal cancer. Yet even though he’s a doctor with the Care Authority Institute—the government agency that regulates health care in the Netherlands—he can’t get the treatment he needs. That’s because the heavily regulated Dutch medical system routinely denies him and other patients experimental drugs that could save their lives. Maarten and his wife, Shifrah, a fiery ex-Mossad agent, set out to change that. But as they attempt to expose the “mega fraud” underlying the Dutch health care system—including insider trading that’s made Stronghold, the Institute’s director, rich—they become ensnared in a deadly international conspiracy that stretches from Amsterdam to Boston, Zurich and beyond. This slim novel will surely raise the hackles of anyone who fears socialized medicine, as it offers a dystopian vision of a society where treatments are parceled out according to arbitrary government standards, not patient needs, and where doctors providing alternative medicine are denounced in the press and hounded by government officials. Some readers will cheer the righteous, impulsive Shifrah and the more cautious, conciliatory Maarten as they strive to expose the government’s slogan of “the best healthcare for everyone” as a lie. However, the novel poorly explains the details of the conspiracy, and its economical writing style leaves little room for character development—especially with such a large cast of key players, including Dmitry Gritsin, a conniving Russian oligarch who believes “there’s a mountain of money to be made in high-class healthcare,” and Dick Admiral, a U.S. Secret Service agent tasked with silencing anyone who speaks out against the Institute. Often, the author seems more interested in making political points than in the finer points of character and plot. That said, there are some edge-of-your seat action sequences, including a shootout on a boat and a dramatic kidnapping. Readers may find the novel’s resolution, however, less than satisfying.
A polemical novel about the creeping influence of government in people’s lives.