Review: 'Panacea' by F. Paul Wilson

panaceaPanacea by F. Paul Wilson
Tor Books (July 5, 2016)
384 pages; $19.79 hardcover; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms

What would the world do with a panacea, a drug which cured all, no matter how severe the illness?  Would it bring peace and prosperity to all, or send humanity into chaos and war?

Also, would the drug be able to cure the longing readers have felt since F. Paul Wilson wrapped up the final tale in the Repairman Jack series, Fear City? Such withdrawal has been painful for the countless fans of one of the most iconic series in thriller history. Panacea might just be more than the new novel from Dr. Wilson; it might satiate his audiences with the tease of a brand new series that entices the reader with wonder, awe, and annoyance that another year or so might have to pass before the next installment materializes.

Medical examiner Laura Fanning appears to be an ordinary woman when she sees the first odd patient, a man who has lived a life of physical perfection, with an odd tattoo on his back which may have connections to an ancient order. Then another crosses her table, one who shakes her sense of reality and logic. Billionaire Clayton Stahlman enlists Laura to find the elixir in order to prevent him from succumbing to his own cancer. Despite her disbelief, she agrees to take on the adventure, giving into medical curiosity. However, she is not alone on this quest. Stahlman’s bodyguard, Rick Hayden, is assigned to travel with her to the rainforest and procure the panacea. He claims to have once been an ex-SEAL, yet Laura discovers there is much more to him than that.

While they seek this elusive treasure, Nelson Fife, a CIA agent and member of the enigmatic brotherhood, tracks them, determined to stop the discovery of the plant which gives life to those who consume it.

The mysteries of the characters, particularly Hayden and Fife, keep the pages flying; Fanning herself is one of the most intriguing female characters Wilson has created in years. As usual, the story twists and turns without an ounce of wasted page. Dialogue is crisp and natural and the action scenes feel as real as the page on which they are printed.

Of course, it wouldn’t be an F. Paul Wilson novel without something brewing beneath the surface. The story is never just the story. Readers are encouraged to think beyond the obvious and wonder about the philosophical implications of what happens between the lines. Is there a connection to Adversary Cycle? This reviewer will never tell.

Highly recommended for so many reasons.

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