Kelso’s (Fractured, 2019) medical thriller sequel tells the story of two doctors whose discovery of a cancer cure might get them killed.
Synthetic-biology expert Claire Hodgson travels to Panama to meet with her old friend Meera Jindal about a long-lasting antibiotic that Meera discovered while doing research in the Panamanian rainforest. According to Claire’s trials, the drug, Endovancin, may be a cure for cancer. As another scientist describes it: “It’s not hyperbole to say it could wind up in the pantheon of drugs alongside penicillin, insulin, cortisone, and aspirin….Millions of patients would benefit from it annually.” Soon after Claire’s arrival, however, a group of armed men, who want the drug for themselves, kidnap both doctors. Claire and her research partner, orthopedic trauma surgeon Mark Thurman, had been planning to do experimental surgery to heal the leg of a prize racehorse named Hyperion, but their treatment will be useless without Endovancin. Meanwhile, an unscrupulous pharmaceutical company—which happens to be run by the owner of Hyperion’s chief rival, a horse named Rampage—also sets its sights on Endovancin, going so far as to bribe one of Claire and Mark’s lab technicians. Now Mark must call on an old Special Forces friend, John Bristow, to help him rescue Claire, secure the Endovancin formula, and prevent the death of a world-class racehorse. Over the course of this novel, Kelso’s prose is detailed yet taut as he roots the plot believably in medical research: “It’s all pharmaceuticals, Doctor. Just how do you think you’re getting paid? The signing bonus you deposited didn’t appear out of thin air….Whether you like it or not, your hands are dirty like the rest of us.” By the time readers finish the novel, the overall story appears fairly outlandish from a distance. However, the reading experience is immersive and feels far from melodramatic; instead, the reader gets the sense that all the espionage, gun battles, and hostage situations are mere annoyances keeping the dedicated scientists from the most important thing: their work.
A fast-paced but well-grounded adventure.