Eight Lives by Susan Hurley [5/10]

A thriller set in the fascinating, high-stakes world of immunotherapy drug research sounds like winner but “Eight Lives” is more a multi-character drama and it suffers from a busy plot that is modulated confusingly. Don’t get me wrong, there is much to like here, and if the topic zings for you, as it did for me, this debut novel is an engaging read. The milieu of pharma drug testing is interesting and the background of immigration offers an interesting twist. The basic plotline – a refugee surgeon who invents a new wonder drug dies a baffling death that ignites a quest for the truth – is sound but Hurley tells the tale through five interlocking characters, with such copious ongoing explanation, that the exoskeleton of the plot blurs, as does tension. The convolutions at the end would serve a better book well. Flawed but a topical diversion.

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