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Recently, my hubby and I went on holiday and hubby didn't have any new books to read so whilst in the airport, he bought two new ones to take with him. Both were Harlan Coben books and when he had finished this one, I decided to make a start on it to break up reading all my chick lit books I had taken with me!
Harlan Coben has written an impressive 20 books so far in the crime/thriller genre and 10 of these are standalone novels whilst the other 10 are part of a chain of books featuring the character of Myron Bolitar. Harlan is based in the USA but, his books are widely available here in the UK.
Sara and Michael are the ideal celebrity couple and loved by all the media and the public. So much in love and with so much going for them, it should be a great time for them but, it all comes crashing down when they are hit by a terrible illness. Sara's friend, Dr Harvey Riker may have the answer though as he has found a miracle cure that millions of people seek and slowly his patients are all getting better. The only problem is there seems to be a killer out there who wants to target his patients.
This puts Michael in danger and Lieutenant Max Bernstein is intent on stopping the killer before it's too late and to make sure that all patients showing the miracle cure are kept safe but, will he really manage to stop a killer than seems more deadly than the disease itself?
I really liked the main characters of Sara and Michael as even though they are both celebrities, they seemed very down to earth with good morals and you could tell they really loved each other. I also really liked the character of Max, the lieutenant investigating the crime. Again, he was a person you could easily relate to who, you wanted to do well and came across as a good guy who just wanted to rid the world of bad people! He is also a friend of Sara's and I liked that the author had brought these characters together and I felt the way they interacted together was really well done.
Dr Harvey Riker I also liked although he was a bit work obsessed! He came across as somebody who wanted to have a life outside his work but, always ended up working too much anyway because he was so passionate about what he does. I felt he suited the story as he was so into his work and it means such a lot to him that you really feel for him that his patients are being targeted.
Overall I felt the characters were interesting, worked well together and were very well created.
Hubby paid full price for his book as he bought it in the airport where there didn't seem to be any offers on. The book cost £7.99 and although the book was very good indeed, it was a shame he didn't buy some books before we went on holiday ready to take with him as he probably would have been able to get this cheaper online!
Interestingly, when I started this book, I was almost put off it altogether by the author himself! He has written an introduction about the book and telling readers that if this is the first book of his you're reading, to put it down and read a newer one first! I have read other books by him before so I knew I liked his style but, then I was worried this might be absolutely terrible - I needn't have worried as in all honesty, I really enjoyed it but, I guess if you're bringing a book out in another country nearly 20 years after it was first released, you might see the flaws in your own work!
I can safely say though that I did truly enjoy the book and I don't know what he was worried about. I would say if you picked this book up and read that introduction, you may actually be put off reading it but, I would say not to be and go ahead as I think most readers would also really enjoy the book, just like I did!
Sara and Michael are a successful married couple, with Sara a rising star in the world of TV presenting on news and current affairs programmes and Michael a New York Knicks basketball star. Their family and social connections tie them to important people in the political, medical, and sports worlds. Unfortunately these connections tangle them up in one of the most controversial and deadly issues of our time, when Michael falls ill and is admitted to hospital.
Dr Harvey Riker believes he has found the miracle cure at his Manhattan clinic that millions are seeking... a cure for AIDS. Then suddenly his partner at the clinic Dr Bruce Grey, commits suicide and as the patients Riker is treating are slowly being cured, he finds that one by one they are being targeted by a serial killer who seems intent on stopping the healing process.
With politics and religion getting in the way and the clinic in jeopardy of losing the funding grants it relies upon, Lieutenant Max Bernstein tries to figure out who is responsible for murdering the clinic's patients before anymore are killed. And with Sara's husband now a patient too, Sara does all she can to help Max, who is also an old friend, but not realising the dangers are a lot closer to home than she can possibly know.
Harlan Coben is one of my favourite authors and I thought I had read all of his books to date when I spotted this on the shelves of a supermarket. It turns out that this is in fact the second novel Coben wrote back in 1991 and has now been published in paperback in the UK 20 years on, something which Coben himself seems unsure about, hence his introduction at the beginning of the book telling the reader that if this is the first book of his that you're going to try, to stop right there, return it and grab another.
He goes on to explain that he hasn't read Miracle Cure in 20 years but didn't want to rewrite it and pass it off as a new book and so for better or worse, here it is.
Despite this, Coben does seem quite proud of the book although he thinks it is a little dated in parts and a bit preachy. For me as a fan of his books and this not being the first book of his I was picking up to read, I was intrigued to find out if this would be as good as his later work.
The book begins with a prologue featuring Dr Bruce Grey, which from the first page plunges the reader into a tension-building situation with events leading up to his death, before leading into a different kind of tension in the first chapter, where we are introduced to Sara Lowell as she prepares to make her TV debut co-presenting 'Newsflash' in front of 30 million people.
I didn't really take to the characters of Sara and her husband right away. They come across as one of those sickly sweet media-darling type couples, beautiful, successful and totally in love. And so I feared that despite the earlier tension, I maybe wouldn't enjoy this book as much as I hoped, but luckily the intriguing storyline and Coben's unique style of writing which keeps you gripped and turning the pages, saw me totally hooked and I found that despite my initial fears, Sara and Michael didn't irritate me that much after all.
Right away I was caught up in the story and trying to figure out who exactly was prepared to kill in order to prevent a cure for AIDS being shown to the world and the reasons why.
I can understand where the author is coming from with his thoughts on the book being dated as the story relates to the early nineties and the scares about AIDS and the prejudices faced. However, although times, medical research and attitudes have changed and moved on in regards to AIDS over the last 20 years, this book is a reminder of the attitudes to what was thought by many to be a disease affecting only gay people and therefore must be self-inflicted due to their lifestyles. It also reminds us of the arguments regarding how much government funding should be put into researching and treating AIDS, with many believing that the money should be spent instead on research into heart disease or cancer. Whilst I agree some of the arguments and issues are dated, it still made for interesting reading and reminded me of how much times and attitudes have changed in the ensuing years towards AIDS sufferers.
The story is typically Coben, with plenty of twists and turns which leave you wondering several times who is responsible and who the 'bad guys' are. Several times I thought maybe I could guess what was going to happen, but true to form, Coben proved me wrong and I was kept guessing right until the end where I was surprised by the conclusion, which was something I had not considered. Whilst the story becomes a little unbelievable in places towards the end, it is nonetheless an exciting and gripping read throughout.
There is plenty of tension and a few surprises in the story and also I loved the dark character of 'George'. Coben excels at this type of character and even here in his early work, he created a character I would like to have seen again in another book.
Overall I loved 'Miracle Cure' and Coben should rightly be proud of it. Whilst he obviously believes his later work is better (and maybe it is) this book still gets five stars from me for being another gripping thriller from Harlan Coben.
Despite penning this book in his early twenties, it has only recently been published in the UK.
I first came across this book when ASDA had a 3 for £10 offer on paperbacks. I chose this one because I've read a couple of Harlan Coben's books before and quite enjoyed them but also the blurb on the back seemed quite intriuging.
They were looking for a miracle cure....
Sara and Michael. The ideal celebrity couple, darlings of the media-until their lives are shattered by a mystery illness.
Dr Harvey Riker. His clinic has found the miracle cure that millions seek. One by one his patients are getting well. One by one they are targeted by a serial killer more fatal than the disease.
Lieutenant Bernstein. His true desires make him a perfect choice to track the killer- or a perfect victim.
Can anyone stop the killer who will do anything to prevent the world's most desperately needed miracle cure?
Harlan Coben has written an introduction to the book. In it he explains that this was his first ever novel, he himself hadn't read it for twenty years and when he decided to publish it, he didn't change it. He then explains that maybe his immaturity as a writer will be off putting and if this is the first work of his you're reading to put it down and read on of his more recent novels.
Sara is a hard hitting, yet compassionate news reporter, her mother died of cancer, her father is top surgeon and her sister Cassandra seems to have it in for her. They come from a wealthy back ground.
Sara then went on to marry Michael, a top basketball player. His back ground is very different, Michael had a poor upbringing and was abused by his step-father.
The golden couple are best friends with Dr Harvey Riker and Dr Bruce Grey. They run a HIV clinic and after years of work believe they may have found a cure.
In the first chapter of the book Bruce is murdered but his death, at the hands of a hit man named George, is made to look like a suicide.
Patients from the clinic who have been cured then begin getting bumped off in gruesome ways, enter Lieutenant Berbstein (another friend of Sara's) on the hunt for 'the gay slasher'. The case becomes high profile when a senator's son (yet another friend of Sara's) is also murdered and the media begin to jump all over it.
This also coincides with Michael collapsing with a mystery illness and then being diagnosed as HIV positive.
Bernstein with the help of Sara needs to put the pieces of the puzzle together before Michael also becomes a target.
I found this book quite easy to get into, even though a the first chapter I wasn't quite sure what the book was actually all about. There are lots of suspects which kept me guessing but I sometimes found it quite busy, a little too much was going on at one time.
The characters are well written enough but not very likeable. In the novel everybody loves Sara yet I found her a tad annoying. I didn't really see the point in making Bernstein gay, his sexuality didn't add anything to the storyline and although he was written as young and gay, he reminded of Columbo with his questioning style and mannerisms.
The dialogue in the book was quite corny, especially between Sara and Michael, in fact it verges on cheese at come points.
Although some points in the novel are easy to predict I have to hold my hands up, I did not see the twist at the end coming so that was quite satisfying but Coben's immaturity as writer is quite obvious throughout.
I wouldn't read it again but if you do beginning reading this book you will want to carry on. I do think only some people will enjoy it though as it isn't one of the best crime novels ever written. I honestly found it a wee bit melodramatic, it was a bit like reading an American soap opera.