SIXERS by John Patrick Kavanagh


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Cheesy, overly chatty plague-thriller by first-novelist Kavanagh, a Chicago attorney. It's the 1990's, and the CYD virus, a genetically engineered error, stalks the world, exhibiting symptoms ranging from sniffles to coma-induced death. No cure exists, but symptomatic treatment is available via drugs manufactured by the colossal Southern United Enterprises (SUE) and taken on the sly for their side-effect high by ""Sixers,"" the 26% of the population immune to CYD. As the novel creaks open, hero David Stonetree, a Sixer employed by SUE, is asked by villainess/SUE honcho/fellow-Sixer Trisha Lane to accept promotion as her assistant. Yearning to buy a pricey antique Mustang, David agrees to the new job and accompanying raise; soon after, he's contacted by the legendary Dr. Arthur Camden, creator of SUE's anti-CYD drug line. Camden, it happens, broke from SUE over their policy of ignoring possible cures for CYD in favor of reaping profits from expensive symptom-treatments. In retaliation, Camden's notebooks, vital to that cure, were confiscated by SUE; will David help get them back? Oddly, Trisha soon taps David with a mirror proposition: she'll give Camden his notes if he'll return the special blood plasma he took from SUE--plasma vital to grow more of a new drug that junkie Trisha craves. As the chapters wobble by, David and Trisha talk, and make out, and listen to tapes by SUE's rock-star promoter, and try out the new drug, and talk some more; David and Camden talk; Trisha and Camden talk: eventually, David and Camden and Trisha all talk together, with the twisty result that Trisha gets fired, Camden at last finds a CYD cure--and David gets a Mustang. Kavanagh offers some mildly amusing detailing of the CYD world (new slang, new etiquette, etc.), but his tale is devoid of suspense or emotional appeal, with the only interesting plot wrinkle (David's wife developing CYD) squashed into an insignificant subplot. Overall, like walking a treadmill: deep-six this one.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1989
Publisher: Lynx (41 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010)