The Panacea Project

Greenleaf. Feb. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9798886450156. $24.95. THRILLER
DEBUT This thriller from former attorney-turned-novelist Johnson explores bodily autonomy as well as just how much people are willing to risk to save the lives of those they love. Loner Calla Hammond is a college dropout who is diagnosed with a brain tumor. When the tumor vanishes in a short period of time, doctors discover that her immune system may hold a cure for cancer. From then on, she’s treated like a lab rat by the Houston hospital’s researchers, and many interested parties will do anything to get access to her blood. Johnson does a great job with her characters, and the story becomes a race to discover which ones are good and which are evil (and who may turn evil when money and fame come into play). Timely commentary on male physicians getting more credit than their female counterparts, as well as some romance between Calla and one of the security guards protecting her, add depth to the story.
VERDICT A gripping medical thriller that may feel all too real in in an age when politics influence medical research and debate rages over vaccines and women’s right to control their own bodies.
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