Fiction – paperback; Alice & Fred Books; 320 pages; 2009. Review copy courtesy of the publisher.
Stephen Davison’s Kill & Cure is not your average run-of-the-mill crime thriller. For a start, it’s set in the pharmaceutical world and its main protagonist is a chiropractor. But this debut novel, to be published on May 15, is a cracking read, full of murders, betrayals and scientific conspiracies.
The story revolves around David Stichell (Stich), the director of a chiropractic clinic in London, who has sole custody of his four-year-old daughter, Alice. He lives with his fiancée, Susan Harrison, a scientist at Immteck Pharmaceuticals, the same company for which he is taking part in a trial to test a new drug that supposedly shrinks cancerous tumors. But what Stich does not realise is that the results of the drug trial are being fudged — and that’s where his life gets interesting.
When Susan and Stich make a visit to see Susan’s Uncle Maxi in the countryside, things begin to go awry. Through the window of Maxi’s house they witness him being murdered, then it’s Susan’s turn to be fatally shot. Stich miraculously escapes with a superficial wound to the leg and goes on the run from the murderer. From here the pace never lets up, particularly when it becomes apparent that the police think him responsible for the deaths, so he must run from both the law and the criminals who want him dead.
Along the way he is accompanied by a trustworthy friend, Vicky, and assisted virtually by a newspaper editor who has contacts in all the right places. When one of Susan’s colleagues is found dead with a syringe — originally full of hydrochloric acid — sticking out of his arm, Stich is convinced the murders are linked and embarks on a quest to unravel the truth before the hit man finally tracks him down …
Kill & Cure is fast, furious and incredibly well plotted. I hesitate to use the word compelling but there’s no better word to describe this novel. I simply had to race through it, almost cover to cover, because I was so determined to find out what happened. And even then, I still didn’t guess the culprits, and the twist at the end came as a real surprise.
The prose style is short and snappy — in fact most of the narrative moves forward almost exclusively through dialogue — but that’s no bad thing.
There’s quite a bit of science in it, but this is all explained clearly and without patronising the reader, no small feat when you’re dealing with complicated subjects.I’m not going to jump up and down and say this is the best book I’ve read all year, but it’s an entertaining read that has a touch of the John Grisham’s about it. I also very much appreciated the London references throughout, and I rather suspect it would make an excellent movie. ITV, where are you?