Glennie’s debut thriller offers a plot that hinges on solving the U.S. health care crisis.
Chris Drummond, due to his qualifications in “acquisition and integration of physician practices,” is chosen to lead a team to find an inspired solution for the country’s massive health care debt. The president, frustrated by the deadlocked government, puts together five groups to compete in a “contest devised to bypass Congress and take the problem directly to the people…usurp[ing] the partisanship of the legislative process.” Drummond ends up in an extravagant compound at an “undisclosed location”—an island near Dubai—with six other people with diverse expertise, including a suicidal Chinese statistician; an American soldier and torture survivor; and a young, heavy metal music–loving, South Asian computer genius. The villain of the story is Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Bennett, a power-hungry politician with designs on the presidency—and a bevy of contract killers on speed dial. In a more personal subplot that bookends the novel, Drummond’s tenderhearted daughter, Sarah, waits for a lung transplant after complications from cystic fibrosis. Drummond and his wife, Linda, also have a strained, distant marriage, and she makes clear that it’s nearing its end. The primary plot, however, relies heavily on the author’s extensive health care research, and, to his credit, he integrates it well; for the most part, it’s never long-winded or extraneous. However, readers will have to arrive with an interest in complex governmental policy. There’s some occasional clunky dialogue, particularly from Sarah (“I’m proud of you, Dad. You have a gift…to see what must be done to solve America’s crisis”), and there’s a huge cast of characters for readers to follow. That said, Glennie seems to know his audience, and he has a consistently good feel for the elements of a mainstream thriller.
An ambitious novel but one that may lack universal appeal.