Shobin's latest medical thriller seizes on the recent surge in the use of herbal supplements in large doses and takes the potential danger to its lethal extreme. Dr. Steve McLaren, a Long Island M.D. with a troubled past, displays herbal supplements made by Ecolabs in his office and touts them in TV ads as a favor to Ted DiGiorgio, a med-school dropout friend who founded the herbal supplement company. A hot new product is Restore-Tabs, a miracle weight-loss supplement that also enhances female sex drive and counters the effects of aging. Steve calls Ted when some patients using the product develop extreme vaginal bleeding, but Ted pleads ignorance. When the situation worsens, Steve is put on to the Ecolabs PR head, the alluring Francesca Taylor, who suggests that he do his own field test with his patients using Restore-Tabs and placebos. Romance ensues, but when Steve contacts the FDA, attempts are made on his life, scandalous rumors about him begin to circulate and patient files are stolen. As Ted grows erratic and paranoid, Francesca offers to sneak Steve into Ted's office to retrieve secret information to build a case for the FDA. Shobin (Terminal Condition), a physician himself, builds a credible medical plot with unscrupulous Third World field tests and greedy entrepreneurs. The parallel narrative unfolding in Indonesia is at least as engrossing as the American section of the book, but the writing throughout tends toward ham-fistedness, and readers may have a hard time swallowing many of the outlandish plot twists. (Feb.) Forecast: This run-of-the-mill medical thriller should perform adequately, but no more. Word of mouth won't breathe vitality into sales, and it's questionable whether a novel that the publisher compares to ""Robin Cook meets Michael Palmer"" can develop a market personality all its own.
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001 Release date: 02/01/2001
Mass Market Paperbound - 338 pages - 978-0-312-97920-1