What I like best about Geoffrey Cooper’s thrillers are how they provide a window into the politics of research institutions. I’ve noted this about his earlier Brad and Karen novels, Nondisclosure and Forever, and if you enjoyed those novels as much as I did, you’ll be glad to know that Bad Medicine is more of the same.
Brad is requested–more like ordered–by the university president to chair a tenure committee at a medical research Institute in Maine. There are two candidates up for tenure: one is Mark Heller, a superstar researcher who appears to have made huge strides in cancer research, the other is Carolyn Gelman, whose work, while strong, lags behind her colleague and is unpopular with the faculty to boot.
The politics of tenure committees are bad enough, but soon, Brad finds evidence that something far more serious is going on: someone is sabotaging Gelman’s research. Beginning with the destruction of test drugs and escalating to far more serious crimes, Brad and Karen once again are drawn into a criminal conspiracy.
As usual, the pace is fast and the twists are numerous, but there are still moments for the characters to stop and catch their breath, and to sample some delicious New England cuisine, the descriptions of which are highly enjoyable.
The core of the book is the relationship between Brad and Karen, which ends up being tested in a surprising way. I liked the way this was handled, too–it makes sense that what happens would put some stress on them, but it doesn’t create needless drama or tension. Sometimes authors go too far in creating fissures in a relationship, in a way that feels forced. But that didn’t happen here.
If you enjoyed the other Brad and Karen books, you’re going to like this one. Besides being a good thriller, it’s another fascinating glimpse behind the curtain at the highest levels of medical research. As soon as I finished it, I found myself hoping to read another one soon.
[Note: this review is based on an ARC. Bad Medicine releases today, February 17, 2021.]