F. Paul Wilson
June 27, 2016
It was around 1995 when I snatched THE TOMB off a rack at the end of a check-out lane in a local grocery store. I devoured F. Paul Wilson’s first Repairman Jack novel, and remember thinking, “This guys is awesome.” It is sad to admit, I never followed up. I never read another book by Wilson, and I have no idea why. So when I was offered a copy of PANACEA in exchange for a review, I jumped at the opportunity.
In Wilson’s latest novel, medical examiner, Laura Hanning, is doing her best to keep a busy life in check. Divorced, she works hard in her field, but also has a young daughter battling cancer. To complicate things, she is handed two new, and bizarre cases. The corpses found at the scene of two separate fires are burnt nearly beyond recognition. However, she can find no cause of death for either. Unique tattoos might be the only other immediate link between the victims.
There are two opposing cults at work. One is known as 536, and they are on the hunt for the elusive Panacea. The all-natural plant cures people of any ailment. They believe the miracle drug is abomination, going against God, and God’s Plan. They want to rid the world of the drug forever. The other cult, the makers of Panacea, do not take their responsibility with the elixir lightly. It is doled out in small, calculated doses.
They know the 536 are closing in on them.
Laura is hired by a terminally ill billionaire to investigate the reality of such a drug, and if it in fact does exist, return to the states with enough to cure him of his disease. While Laura does not believe in the Panacea, or its mystical powers of healing, she can’t walk away from his offer. For two weeks of her time, and even if she returns empty handed, she will be paid millions.
Rick Hayden is her assigned bodyguard, an ex Navy Seal. The trip should be relatively quick, and easy. Except, nothing is ever quick and easy.
Laura and Rick find themselves the target of the 536, as they discover that each clue leads them to yet another clue. Their search for answers turns up only more questions. What they thought would be a single stop to find the Panacea, ends up the first of many –and before they know it, they are traveling all over the globe.
Deception, and mistrust abound. With her ex-husband caring for their daughter at home while she traverses the continents on a bizarre scavenger hunt, Laura learns those closest to her might not be who they seem. Unable to give up, and walk away, Laura is determined to see the trek out to the end. She has to know if the Panacea is real . . . even if it means she could die trying.
PANACEA is a compelling medical thriller. Wilson has created a cast of characters that, good, or bad, the reader will relate with them. I found myself sympathetic to the antagonist on more than one occasion. The pacing is fast. The chapters taut. I read the book in a few sittings, and loved every piece of the story. I can tell you, I am not going to wait another 30 plus years to read my next F. Paul Wilson novel!