cover image Bad Medicine: Catching New York’s Deadliest Pill Pusher

Bad Medicine: Catching New York’s Deadliest Pill Pusher

Charlotte Bismuth. One Signal, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-1-982116-42-2

In this dramatic true crime debut, attorney Bismuth recounts her role as a member of New York City’s Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor in helping to convict doctor Stan Li of manslaughter in 2014. With the help of a homicide detective, Bismuth spent four years building the case with testimony from former patients describing how they got opioid prescriptions for cash at Li’s pain clinic in Queens. Meanwhile, Bismuth’s personal life was in shambles as she headed for divorce and single parenthood. Interspersing her blow-by-low rundown of the investigation and trial with vivid flashbacks and flash-forwards, and evidence that opioid prescriptions doubled in New York between 2007 and 2010, Bismuth illustrates the unique difficulties in holding unscrupulous doctors to account for fostering the nationwide opioid epidemic. In one of the book’s most memorable trial scenes, the father of a heroin addict recounts his fruitless efforts to persuade Li to stop overprescribing fentanyl, morphine, Vicodin, and Xanax to his daughter. Bismuth builds tension expertly, and offers hope that the tools of law enforcement can be used to reign in the worst abuses of the medical industry. This gritty page-turner offers a unique perspective on America’s opioid crisis. (Jan.)