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05 September 2010 @ 12:12 am
New Review: Whiplash  
"Whiplash" by Catherine Coulter

Book Blurb: Yale professor Dr. Edward Kender’s father is undergoing chemotherapy when the supply of a critical accompanying drug suddenly runs out. Unwilling to accept the drug company’s disingenuous excuse of production line problems, Dr. Kender hires private investigator Erin Pulask to prove there is something more sinister going on at Schiffer Engel’s manufacturing facility in Indiana.

Pulaski uncovers a bombshell – Schiffer Engel’s intentional shortage is bringing in a windfall profit in excess of two billion dollars.

When a top Schiffer Engel employee shows up viciously murdered behind the U.S. headquarters, Sherlock and Savich are called in to lend a hand. The murder of a foreign national on federal land can only mean the German drug company has a secret of epic proportions.


Review: The intro had me going "OMG, shoot me now". The book centers around a drug company and it's handling of a chemo drug for patients. Coulter apparently feels strongly about drug companies as she shoves down our throats and hammers us on the head with the topic of how drug companies behave and misbehave. Luckily, she quickly moves into the story and eases up on the preaching.

     Once she shifts gears, the book becomes tried and true FBI formula. As usual, we see Savich and Sherlock, the married FBI agents and meet a new agent, Bowie Richards, and a female PI, Erin Pulaski who also doubles as a dance teacher. Erin has Bowie's daughter Georgie in her dance class and unexpectedly finds herself caring for Georgie when her nanny has to have surgery.

     Erin is working on a case for an old family friend whose father's chemo drug has been rationed. The factories that produce the drug have encountered "unexpected" production problems and now it's in short supply. As a result, oncologists and their patients either have to stop treatment or switch to a more expensive drug made by a rival company. For reasons that are never explained, once you switch chemo drugs, you can't switch back to the cheaper drug. That's part of what drives the story but absolutely no reason is offered by Coulter as to why if you switch from drug A to drug B, you can't switch back to drug A. I don't know enough about medicine, drugs or cancer to to know if this has any factual basis but the story would have been better served if Coulter had offered some explanation. Instead, the whole story rests on this flimsy basis.

     Erin's case crashes into the FBI when a German citizen is found murdered on public land very near the corporate offices of the drug company, which Erin broke into. Naturally, the FBI agent in charge of the case is Georgie's father, Bowie. As Erin cares for Georgie, she uses the opportunity to question Bowie about the case and where it's heading. Erin was spotted leaving the grounds at about the same time the murder occurred and she's scared that she'll be arrested for the murder.

Sparks fly between Erin and Bowie but their relationship moves slowly. Coulter takes her time and lets them get to know each other instead of jumping immediately into bed. I liked Erin and Bowie as a couple, they felt believable and better drawn than some other couples in the series.

     There's also a secondary plot, completely unrelated to the main story, involving a US Senator who believes that he is being visited by his dead wife's ghost. Actually , the Senator is torn between believing that it's real and worried that someone is trying to drive him mad. Then people around him start having accidents, even dying. Savich is asked by his boss to discretely look into the situation. 
 
     Other than the initial emphasis on the drug issue, the book offers nothing new. If you like her FBI books or you are looking for the familiar and comfortable, you'll probably like this book. It's enjoyable read and even had some twists that I didn't see coming.

     This review is also posted at: goodreads

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons

This book was borrowed from my local library.