The Proteus Cure
by F. Paul Wilson and Tracy L. Carbone
Review by Drew Bittner
Shadowridge Press Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780615795874
Date: 21 April 2013 List Price $16.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Medical thrillers walk a tough line--they must feel plausible enough to engage the reader and yet fantastic enough to challenge and enthrall. Lucky for readers, F. Paul Wilson is both a grandmaster writer and a medical doctor...and this new book satisfies both sides of that equation.
In The Proteus Cure, a groundbreaking discovery could lead to a genuine cure for cancer. Dr. Bill Gilchrist and his team, including a sister afflicted with birth defects, unveils VG723, a stem cell-based treatment that could be the ultimate breakthrough.
Dr. Sheila Takamura, a new addition to the team, hopes it is, anyway. But the patients whose cancers are treated successfully begin to show... symptoms. Strange alterations begin to manifest in these patients, and Sheila realizes something has gone horribly wrong.
Investigating the real secrets lurking beneath this amazing discovery will put Sheila's life at risk and threaten to overturn a medical miracle, ending careers and (just possibly) lives as well. Is the cure worse than the disease? That's a question that readers might find themselves asking as this book races toward its thrilling conclusion.
For those who have pigeonholed Wilson as a writer of supernatural thrillers (that is, who know him only from his Repairman Jack adventures), it is eye-opening to realize that his range is far broader than that assumption would allow. Working with Ms. Carbone, this book delves into the very real questions that underlie the world of miracle cures and the risks that attend the knowledge we seek. If gene-level treatment is possible, what could happen if those treatments go wrong, or don't work quite as advertised? If a cure manages to pass its clinical trials and be deemed ready for widespread use, what happens if the trials didn't catch the things that might go wrong?
Apart from the questions of science and ethics and medical morality (which admittedly are at the heart of every medical thriller), Wilson and Carbone have created characters who are not so easily stereotyped. Gilchrist is a man of science whose focus turns into something far more dark, even as his sister Abra realizes the true dangers in their clinic. And Sheila Takamura, delving into this murky situation with help of her own, does not have clean hands herself and yet struggles to do the right thing, once she realizes the scope of the problem in which she's entangled.
Wilson and Carbone have an engaging, thrilling rollercoaster ride in this novel. Readers are likely to be discussing the issues raised long after the covers are closed.