DiscoverMedical Thriller

Running Still

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Worth reading 😎

Fast-paced, gripping, and dramatic novel based on the Big Pharma conspiracy theory

Synopsis

Jack Turner has a problem. Less than a year after escaping the big city for a taste of the simple life, his family is sick. His wife and kids have been diagnosed with a never before seen illness and the clock is ticking. But why isn't he sick? And how is there already a drug available for this new disease? Jack will stop at nothing to get answers, and to save his family. With the help of some surprising and unexpected friends, he uncovers a conspiracy that is bigger than anything he could have imagined. But is it more than he can handle? Filled with action, drama, and suspense, Running Still is a roller coaster ride that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end!

I'd guessed the plot after the first two chapters because there's nothing new about it. I believe I've read similar books or watched movies with a similar story. But the author's ability to create a super tense atmosphere--where you keep wondering who is going to drop dead next--has won me over.


I am a fan of Robin Cook and I tend to compare every medical thriller to him. Running Still sounds a lot like one of his novels.


Small town folk are developing a rare form of cancer, for which a new drug called EBF-14 is being prescribed by renowned oncologists. A man sets out to understand what is really happening. He's up against a large multinational pharmaceutical company with money and connections.


People who discover the secret or parts of it are ruthlessly eliminated, and as a reader, you're constantly in fear of the main characters losing their life before they can bring the perpetrators to justice. It's all so nail-biting and anxiety-inducing!


There's an incredible amount of detail about picking sophisticated locks and safes and I'm impressed by the amount of research that has gone into it. I won't say I was able to follow it all but I did learn a few things.


Late into the novel (around 75% in), there's a twist that I never saw coming. That was one of the high points of this book. The disappointments faced by the characters were indicative of what happens in the real world when you're fighting against powerful entities.


However, there were a few things that held back the novel from realizing its true potential. The author tends to launch into lectures when attempting to provide information about things such as healthy eating, how pharma does business, and how certain institutions are structured.


He repeats facts about the fishy nature of the drug so often that it becomes annoying. The tone of the novel is too strong and too in-your-face. I'd have liked it to be more restrained, subtle, and mysterious.


Also, the ending is too conveniently wrapped up, as if the author felt he owed it to the readers to give them a feel-good end.


Nevertheless, I enjoyed this book a lot and would recommend it to people who enjoy dramatic, tense medical thrillers.



Reviewed by

My reviews are for readers. I attempt to write balanced reviews to help people decide if they'd like to pick up the book. I also post reviews to Amazon India, Goodreads, and my blog: www.satabdimukherjee.wordpress.com.

Synopsis

Jack Turner has a problem. Less than a year after escaping the big city for a taste of the simple life, his family is sick. His wife and kids have been diagnosed with a never before seen illness and the clock is ticking. But why isn't he sick? And how is there already a drug available for this new disease? Jack will stop at nothing to get answers, and to save his family. With the help of some surprising and unexpected friends, he uncovers a conspiracy that is bigger than anything he could have imagined. But is it more than he can handle? Filled with action, drama, and suspense, Running Still is a roller coaster ride that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end!

When Jack heard the diagnosis, he refused to believe it. Whatever the doctor said next, he didn't hear it. Everything from that moment on was just noise.

Cancer. Invasive. Aggressive. Terminal.

Again.

The doctor droned on about advanced treatments, experimental drugs, and survival percentages, but none of it registered. Jack had tuned him out. This was the third time he'd sat in the same office, in the same chair, listening to the same doctor speak the same words. His shoulders sagged as he let out a deep sigh. He had feared the worst, and now the nightmare had become a reality.

“How is this possible?" Jack managed to utter.

“Sometimes it just runs in the family...," the doctor began.

“But it doesn’t run in the family!" Jack shouted. “Not mine, and not hers!" He jerked a thumb in his wife’s direction. Amy was sitting in the chair next to him. She put a hand on his arm in a futile attempt to calm him.

Jack tried. He wanted to stay calm, for her. He tried to just breathe, but he was overwhelmed with emotion. How could this be?

His stomach lurched as he considered what this meant for Amy, and their family. More of everything, none of it good. More doctor's visits, more blood work, more drugs, more nausea, more vomiting, and more crying.

Jack was all too familiar with the seven stages of grief. He'd read a few books on it. He was practically an expert. Today, he decided he would skip right over the denial phase and jump right into anger. Why is this happening? How is this happening?

“Jack, are you hearing me?” the doctor asked, interrupting his thoughts.

“I hear you Dr. Holst, but I don’t understand," Jack said, exasperated. “How is this possible?” Jack was on his feet now, pacing around the office. “How can three people from the same family, two of them kids, have cancer? All three diagnosed within a year! Amy and I never smoked, we never did drugs, we don’t drink, we eat healthy, we exercise, we drink nothing but water… it doesn’t make sense!”

“I understand what you're saying, but sometimes it doesn't matter. You can do all the right things and still get sick."

"How?!"

"It just happens."

There was nothing Dr. Holst could have said that would have changed the way Jack was feeling.

Instead, he made it worse.

"You’re not alone, Jack. I have a number of other patients with the exact same condition," Dr. Holst said, instantly regretting the words.

Jack stopped pacing, turned to face Dr. Holst and said, a little too loudly, “Is that supposed to make me feel better?! You just told me my son, my twelve-year-old son, is going to die from cancer! First Amy, then Emma, and now Nate. I’m going to lose my whole family to this shit, and I’m supposed to feel better because other people get cancer too?! Is that what you’re saying?”

Dr. Holst was all too familiar with the emotional outbursts that often happened in these types of meetings. He took a breath and replied calmly, “You're not going to lose anyone, Jack. So far, the new medication seems to be working well for Amy and Emma. We’ll get Nate started on it as soon as all of his tests are complete."

Jack loaded another retort, but before he could fire it off, Amy stated calmly, “Jack, sit down. This isn’t helping."

Jack grudgingly plopped back into his chair. He always bent to Amy’s will, but now more than ever. He didn’t know how much longer he would have her, and upsetting her was the last thing he wanted to do. He looked at her and offered a weak smile. “Sorry," he muttered.

“I know how you must be feeling," Dr. Holst began. Jack whipped his head around and glared at the doctor. Realizing his poor choice of words, Dr. Holst moved on. “We’ve talked about this. Sometimes genetics play a role in these things, and there’s nothing we can do."

“Dr. Holst,” Jack said calmly as his wife gently squeezed his hand, “Amy and I have subjected ourselves to every genetic test under the sun. Test you requested. We went to the experts you recommended!” Jack made air quotes with his hands around the word experts. “The tests found nothing. No tumor markers, no genetic variations, nothing. We have no family history of any kind of systemic disease, and certainly not life-threatening cancer. Our parents are still alive and in good health. Our grandparents lived well into their nineties. Our family is the picture of health. Or was.”

Suddenly Amy was up from her seat, moving quickly to the side of Dr. Holst’s desk. She doubled over and began to vomit into his garbage can. Jack was immediately at her side rubbing her back, speaking comforting words and trying to convince her, and himself, that it was going to be ok.

He looked up, locked eyes with the doctor and said softly, “What is happening to my family?”

About the author

Steven Sheiner is the winner of the inaugural James Patterson Master Class writing contest and the author of the acclaimed thrillers, Shot Down and Running Still. He lives in South Florida with his wife and two sons. view profile

Published on November 24, 2019

Published by

90000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Medical Thriller

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