24 August 2014

What would you do if you knew one drug could doom the world?

Thriller | The Side Effect | Bob Reiss

The head of security for a pharma company finds his Chairman dead, presumably suicide. In the meantime, the President of the USA resigns, and is replaced by a hardliner. Other resignations happen. What's the connection, if any?

Investigating, along with his faithful team of security guy and computer hacker, our man teams up with the daughter of the Chairman and his personal assistant, both ravishing beauties to whom he is deeply attracted, though wary of involvement almost as a principle. For a change, they are not described as large-breasted. Still, their breasts are very much described. Bleargh. Don't male authors think women read, or do they not care how shallow they seem?

In the meantime, powerful people, including the new Chairman and the company's lobbyist, both friends of the dead man, want the case closed. Our hero is threatened with death, which only makes him more determined. The daughter of the Chairman says he was awfully manipulative and elitist, while our man thinks of him as just and honest. The Chairman was wary of an army Major, and the Major takes an immediate dislike to the protagonist, too. A dangerous enemy is made.

It emerges that the Chairman had been approached by a freelance researcher who had found a 'side effect' in a drug being tested (uselessly) for arthritis.

The rest of the book is about this side effect. Since it is revealed in its full glory only halfway through the book, it would be a spoiler to tell you what it is. Suffice to say it sits on the edge between science fiction and fantasy, and is well worth all the efforts to gain exclusive control over it. All in the national interest, of course.

Fortunately, the entire government is not compromised, and the evil doers are not (yet) all powerful. The new drug is being mass produced, but only in one location. Our team attacks the location, and the finale is achieved. Credit roll.

There are formulaic elements in the book. Which of the two women, equally in love with the protagonist, will eventually live with him? (As per formula, the other one has to move conveniently aside, either through sacrifice or death). Children exist, but they are neither seen nor heard. The sidekick is utterly loyal, competent, but follows the leader unquestioningly. At a critical moment, he is injured, and the boss has to do all the rest of the 'action'.  The evil doers claim to be doing good. The really nasty killers get their just desserts. Fanatics suffer.

A fair lazy Sunday read.

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