With this book, Ann Patchett may have invented a new genre of fiction – the pharmaceutical mystery! Awarded four stars on Goodreads.
At the center of the story is a fortyish, female research physician, Dr. Singh, whose lab partner has gone off to get an update on a miracle drug, currently under development deep in the Amazon rainforest. When word comes back that the partner has died, Dr. Singh must find out what happened to him and report back on the state of the drug’s development.
It turns out the chief developer of the drug is Singh’s former professor and nemesis, a cold and secretive woman who doesn’t appear to want to share any info with the very drug company financing her work.
The book centers on Singh’s efforts to discover what is going on in among members of a remote tribe, where the drug research is underway, Along the way Singh meets gatekeepers trying to block her efforts, a deaf native boy who becomes her constant companion and a loyal Brazilian taxi driver who gets things done. There are also Anaconda attacks, strange fevers, minions of insects, and, of course, nearby cannibals.
The book reads like a mystery. I found myself shifting loyalties as I too tried to figure out who were the bad guys. And the end has a few surprises. Very enjoyable to read!