In Bleakley’s (Serenity, 2012, etc.) legal thriller, attorneys face off against a pharmaceutical company that doesn’t want the public to know about a drug’s potentially lethal effects.
In 2011, law school graduate Katie Hornsby gets a job at the firm of Riley and Newton. Her first case involves multiple clients and a drug called Lorital, a testosterone pill whose generic version has been linked to fatal heart attacks and strokes. Lorital creator Orex Laboratories, however, is making a substantial profit as the owner of Enpact Pharmaceuticals, the Indian company responsible for the drug’s generic form. Orex is more than willing to use its connections, including a circuit court judge and the Michigan Supreme Court’s chief justice, to steer clear of a trial. Katie and her boss, Gary Newton, combat coercion, blackmail, and a possible spy or two to take their fight to court. The novel effectively highlights its exemplary lawyer protagonist; Katie’s deposition at Enpact, in particular, shows her poise and resolve as she questions Dr. Elizabeth Barrett, the company’s director of clinical medicine, and remains steadfast despite opposing counsel’s constant interruptions. The initially slow story gradually develops an impressive tempo as it adds new elements, such as a client who refuses to cooperate with Katie and an anti-Lorital report that the Food and Drug Administration apparently neglected. Likewise, Bleakley’s introduction of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council adds intrigue and a touch of suspense; the organization is dead-set on protecting Orex, and has the money to keep certain people quiet. Katie’s love of baseball augments her personality as well as her history; her grandfather was even named after a legendary baseball figure. However, she endlessly recites baseball statistics and speaks in sports analogies both in and out of the courtroom, which adds little to the story and wears thin around the novel’s halfway point. Fortunately, the final act zeros in on the civil case in which Katie and Gary try to make Orex and Enpact pay—financially or otherwise.
understated but entertaining thriller that will more than satisfy genre fans.