TAMERLANE STATE by Thomas Caferro


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The pharmaceutical industry takes another blow in this medical mystery/thriller.

Dr. Jeffrey Connor is in a predicament. Not only do financial difficulties force the young psychiatrist to take a position at a remote, state-run mental institution, but within the first two weeks of his tenure, he’s attacked by Viktor LeFleur, a crazed patient. During the ensuing brawl, the doctor kills the patient, leading to an investigation. But when Jeff starts to ask questions about what he perceives as flawed procedure, he is told to mind his own business. Viktor’s autopsy indicates high levels of cocaine and PCP, and soon a low-level staff member is arrested for dealing on the property. Jeff remains dissatisfied with the investigation, and when Viktor’s daughter, Celeste, appears demanding answers, the good doctor takes it upon himself to uncover the corruption at the Tamerlane Asylum for the Insane. He learns that Viktor’s blood test had been rigged, and his superiors become displeased with his meddling, particularly when he discovers that the administration is collaborating with the pharmaceutical industry in a devious scheme that’s as lucrative as it is unethical. Along the way, Jeff and Celeste engage in the requisite love affair and revelatory conversations about personal histories that seem like afterthoughts–the narrative is certainly not ambitious in its characterization–and the storyline offers satisfying, if not entirely surprising, twists. Throughout, the author employs fluid, accessible prose. If the plot is ultimately formulaic and the characters reflections of those found in countless thrillers past, the novel has enough action to keep the pages turning.

Not particularly original, but entertaining.

Program: Kirkus Indie
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