Deadly Cure

by Lawrence Goldstone
Pegasus Crime, November 2017, $25.95

It is an ordinary day for busy young Brooklyn physician Noah Whitestone until he is urgently summoned to treat Willard Anschutz, the five-year-old son of a wealthy and well-connected neighbor. The boy has suddenly taken ill while the family’s regular physician, the prominent Dr. Arnold Frias, is unavailable. The year is 1899, and Noah gives Willard a small dose of laudanum to ease his acute symptoms. An hour later, the boy suddenly and inexplicably dies. Under a cloud of suspicion, Noah, who is certain he has done nothing wrong, must find out what really happened and who is responsible—for murder is the only reasonable explanation.

At the end of the 19th century, scientific medicine was in its infancy. Unregulated “patent medicines” were widely used at all levels of society to treat everything from colds to tuberculosis. Noah soon learns from a muckraking reporter for a radical paper that several other children have died under circumstances similar to Willard’s, with symptoms that suggest an overdose of opiates. All of them have been given an experimental new miracle drug from Germany—said to be without side effects—that is about to be launched on the American market, with enormous profit potential. Noah is drawn into a dangerous world of radical politics, corrupt authorities, and violent criminals, where beatings and even bombings are seen as just a means to an end.

Deadly Cure mixes memorable characters and actual historical figures in a vividly detailed period setting, with nonstop action and intriguing suspense. Many of its themes, such as the influence of money on medicine, police brutality, divisive politics, and opiate abuse, are as relevant today as they were more than a hundred years ago.

Jean Gazis
Teri Duerr
November 2017
Pegasus Crime