Thursday, June 13, 2013

Book Review: Alchemist


Be afraid, be very afraid of big pharmaceutical organisations.  When Montana Bannerman’s Nobel prize-winning father sells his company (including his genetics research and laboratory) to a giant corporation, Bendix Schere,  that labels itself as ’caring,’ she and her father think their financial problems are over. All they need to do now is research for cures that will benefit mankind. Right? Wrong. Within a short space of time, a pushy reporter (Zandra Wollerton) working on a wild and seemingly far-fetched story is dead. Too many babies are being born with Cyclops Syndrome. Is this
coincidence or genetic engineering? Then when more people connected to the company and the investigation start dying—sometimes in front of Monty—she takes fright. Who is behind the world’s most caring company’s hidden agenda? And when Monty narrowly escapes an attempt on her life, she wonders who can she trust? A co-worker? The police? Everyone she speaks to ends up dead!

What a thriller. I read this book a while ago and enjoyed it even more on the second read. It is a thought-provoking novel with enough of a sprinkling of the occult to remain credible. The Satanic side is not overdone, and wasn’t magic really science in disguise thousands of years ago? There is also enough science and genetics to keep the reader interested without overwhelming the layman with too much ‘stuff.’ Flashbacks are relevant and add to the story. The author has a way of keeping readers intrigued as new information filters through. I liked the characters very much and found them believable. The action jumps between scenarios to keep the readers on the edge of their seats. The plot is complex, but ‘big reveals’ are surprising and conspiracy theorists will be satisfied with this book.
One wonders, after reading this book, if the author knows something we do not. Even though this book was published in 1999, its relevance for today is perhaps even more compelling. We have become so dependent on medication, and (most interestingly) a new trend coming to the fore is genetic analysis. People can have themselves tested to see what diseases they might develop in the future and take steps accordingly to prevent such diseases developing. Perhaps big pharmaceutical companies will see a gap here and fact becomes stranger than fiction…
Peter James is an international, best-selling British author of crime fiction. Read more about his books here.

by Fiona Ingram
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