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When hope becomes a killer...
Miracle Cure - Harlan Coben
Member Name: jeffjen
Miracle Cure - Harlan Coben
Date: 28/09/11, updated on 28/09/11 (104 review reads)
Advantages: Gripping, tense thriller with plenty of twists.
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.
Summary: Coben's second novel is a big hit with me.