Panacea by F. Paul Wilson, 2016
What if there was a cure for every ailment? Cancer. Leukemia. MS. Diabetes. AIDS. A cure that reset your body back to its maximum health. You would make it available to everyone in the world, right? But, if everyone had access to it, people would live longer, and that could lead to social and economic chaos…Or, would you make sure that your country’s government controlled it? To make sure it didn’t fall into the wrong hands, of course. Like to those who would release a bioweapon and then sell the panacea to the highest bidder? That is the central ethical dilemma in F. Paul Wilson’s new book. There is such a panacea. Thoughtfully and secretly doled out by a benevolent organization. And it is being sought after by those with murky motives and deadly means.
Dr. Laura Fanning, Deputy Medical Examiner, is perplexed by two dead – otherwise perfectly healthy – bodies who have similar tattoos resembling a caduceus. Fanning’s daughter is recovering from a stem cell transplant to treat lymphoblastic leukemia. Nelson Fife is a high-level operative of the “Company” a clandestine government agency, and also a member of the strictly religious 536 Brotherhood sworn to eradicate the pagan panacean cult and get the cure under its own control. Fife is suffering from inexplicable, increasing headaches. Millionaire Clayton Stahlman will pay anything for a miracle cure: he has pulmonary fibrosis. All of these characters are, unbeknownst to each other, within a few degrees of separation.
Stahlman enlists Fanning to journey to Quintana Roo in search of the cure. Traveling with Rick Hayden, a highly effective bodyguard with a mysterious past, Fanning finds clues to the panacea that lead them to Israel and on to the Pyrenees. While Fife marshals his considerable resources against them, he and Fanning face moral dilemmas. Would Fife take the panacea even though it flies in the face of his beliefs? Will Fanning believe in the impossible nature of the cure enough to give it to her daughter, should she even find it?
Wilson’s new read is everything a thriller should be. Action-packed. Fast-moving. Filled with exotic locations. A suspenseful mystery. Characters you like and want to see again – and the ending does leave that possibility open. But the story is elevated a bit above the usual adventure novel because of its thought-provoking premise and the exploration of differing morals. Three characters face imminent death. What would they do with a panacea? What would you do? Great read.