Panacea by F. Paul Wilson
Tor Books, 2016
Availability: Hardcover, Kindle edition
What would the world do with a panacea, a drug which cured every illness, no matter how severe? Would it bring peace and prosperity to all, or send humanity into chaos and war? Could the drug cure the painful longing readers have felt since F. Paul Wilson wrapped up his final Repairman Jack tale? Withdrawal has been painful for the countless fans of the Repairman Jack series, but, as the first book in a new series, Panacea might hook them all over again, enticing them with wonder, awe, and, yes, annoyance that another year or so might have to pass before the next installment materializes.
Medical examiner Laura Fanning lives an ordinary life. Then she receives a subject who is physically perfect, except for the odd tattoo on his back; a numeral connecting him to an ancient, secret order. When another body with the mysterious tattoo crosses her table, her sense of reality is shaken. Then billionaire Clayton Stahlman enlists Laura to find an elixir that will cure his cancer. However, she is not alone on this quest. Stahlman’s bodyguard, Rick Hayden, is assigned to travel with her to the rainforest to procure the panacea. He claims to have once been an ex-SEAL, but Laura discovers there is much more to the man beyond what he reveals. While they seek this elusive treasure, Nelson Fife, a CIA agent and member of the enigmatic order, tracks them, determined to prevent their discovery of the life-giving substance.
Fanning is one of the most intriguing female characters Wilson has created, and the mysterious characters, particularly Hayden and Fife, keep the pages As one expects in Wilson’s work, the story twists and turns without an inch of wasted space. Dialogue is crisp and natural and the action scenes are absolutely gripping.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an F. Paul Wilson novel without something extra brewing beneath the surface; his story is never just a story. Readers are encouraged to think beyond the obvious and ponder the philosophical implications of what is going on between the lines. What is the connection to the ancient Adversary Cycle? This reviewer will never tell. Highly recommended
Reviewed by David Simms