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The Alzheimer's Conspiracy by Stephen…
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The Alzheimer's Conspiracy

by Stephen Woodfin

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A promising thriller: a rogue CIA element colludes with a heartless pharmaceutical company to infect the unsuspecting population with Alzheimer’s. The book’s thrill, however, diminishes for lack of editing.

The plot develops nicely and the climax has startling elements; but the finale is saccharin and unbelievable. Tighter revisions would abbreviate the tearful confessions and fanciful hugging, and might discover other ways to satisfy a reader’s happy-ending quotient. There are other flaws, too.

People: The author uses the shortcut device of dubbing his characters with peculiar names rather than painting them with memorable traits: a limp, a weird tic, a scar, peculiar lisp, or an odd wardrobe. These flat characters are unremarkable since they lack significant details. Foreign-sounding surnames are intended to suggest some xenophobic fears. Some of the baddies include Schoenfeld, Brokowksi, Seidelman. Even Simon Gobels hints to a Nazi of memory. Ray Copernicus is an odd moniker for a central character; but implied here is that the notion that the eye of the storm of this story is akin to the author of helio-centric theory. Lawyer Eisenhower Richter is the antagonist. Attorney-author Woodfin shows his prejudice for the legal community by continually having his characters refer to Ike as “Mr. Richter.” In casual conversations, people don’t refer repeatedly to an attorney as “Mister.”

Places: Chase scenes and travel routes read like gazetteer renderings from an atlas. For any non-Texas reader the routings are meaningless, although they lend authenticity to the story. But a few picturesque scenes along the way would invite us along for the ride and make the trips more memorable.

Things: The use of washed-up or has-been politicians as exemplars—a “John Edwards haircut”; a “Mike Huckabee comb-over”—might prove hollow to anyone but an historian. Rather, more popular and recognizable personalities might be better appreciated especially by a younger audience. Usually, writers are warned to avoid slang (“ginga” for Pete’s sake). Woodfin loves to employ the slang “Bimmer.” Is he fixated on BMW cars or is he lecturing us on vernacular jargon (“Beemer” is the slang for BMW’s motorcycle)?

Some other problems: (a) The typographic use of italics in Chapter 21’s dream sequence is a bit odd. A better use might be to use this section as a first-person memory flashback. (b) The medical/chemical jargon is vague enough to be believable without being technical; but, serum production in a hotel room seems a far stretch of the imagination. And, (c) When not preaching, some characters deliver rather robotic, bland, and stilted dialogue.

One description for this novel is “forgettable.” This novel is a raw read—perhaps it is a draft rushed to print. It cries for more polish to be memorable. ( )
  terk71 | May 28, 2013 |
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