Corrupt American and Chinese government officials scramble for control over a medical cure-all derived from a Nepalese plant, culminating in an international incident in Allen’s (Deadly Untruths, 2008) second novel.
Dr. Maggie James and Dr. Jangbu Tong have been researching the growth and effect of a unique plant found in a remote village in Nepal. When Maggie arrives at the village to check on the progress of the experiment, she finds her partner severely beaten. Jangbu reveals that his abusers, hoping to intimidate him into submission, were strangers in search of the plant. In the aftermath of the attack, it’s imperative that the team work quickly to validate their research. As they rush to complete their findings, U.S. senators, lobbyists, an ambitious Chinese ex-pat and his granddaughter, Luli, all scramble to gain control over the miracle drug. Allen then increases the reader’s anticipation of conflict with the introduction of corrupt Chinese government officials. The plant’s power offers what seems like the golden ticket to world domination; everyone wants a piece of the pie. Though briskly paced, the language is often clumsy and redundant. No matter how well the plot is moving, the constant mention of Luli’s youth and beauty or Maggie’s idealism and dedication do little to advance the story. Detailed expositions of the internal workings of the U.S. government—specifically the Senate and the lobbies—indicate exhaustive research or familiarity with the halls of power. Allen has a knack for keeping the reader enthralled by the suspense. Unfortunately, the rush of the plot derails in-depth exploration of the issues of corruption and greed, or the ethics behind the use and dissemination of such a miraculous plant.
A political thriller that relies heavily on action but lacks substance.