The Devil's Cure
by Kenneth Oppel
Book Review by Amy Coffin
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Laura Donaldson is a prominent physician specializing in cancer research. She's married to her work, pushing herself to the brink in the quest for a cure.

David Haines is a death-row inmate who leads a small cult from his cell. For his role as the "Doctor Killer," he shall be put to death in a matter of days.

Kevin Sheldrake is the FBI agent who brought Haines down. He was rewarded for his efforts, but the accomplishment ultimately destroyed his marriage.

They are three people with very different lives. A simple twist of fate brings them together.

Through routine blood testing, doctors find that David Haines's body is able to attack and destroy cancer cells.

Laura learns about the discovery and tries to get more blood from the inmate. Haines refuses, stating the action is against his religious beliefs.

When the courts try to force Haines to give blood, he stages a break from prison.

There is a nationwide manhunt for the escapee. Kevin wants Haines stopped, by any means necessary, before he can kill again. Laura wants to find him alive because his blood may unlock the cure for cancer.

The cross-country search is the subject of Kenneth Oppel's first novel: The Devil's Cure.

It takes a while to set up the three players, but the author creates an interesting path. Suspense is present from the first chapter to the last. Readers will not bored at all.

The subjects of cancer research and medical ethics provide an interesting plot. Oppel explains the complex scientific terminology in a manner that is easy for a novice to understand.

The story flows nicely despite some convenience issues that help the plot along. Readers must accept that the FBI would hire a former cult member to be an agent (Sheldrake). It is also quite helpful that David Haines has a medical background. I was also quite thankful that two of the characters were able to travel on an airplane with $25,000 and a gun respectively. If they had to stop at security checkpoints like the rest of us, who knows how long the story would have been stalled?

Ok, enough of my petty complaints. The Devil's Cure is a well-written story. If the book jacket didn't disclose the fact, it would be impossible to tell that this is Oppel's first adult suspense novel. He is known for his best-selling children's work.

Readers should be satisfied with this tale. There is page-turning suspense to the very end. Some of the side plots are left unfinished. That may bother some bookworms. However, I felt the ending was nicely written, suggesting hope and encouragement.

Best-selling authors T. Jefferson Parker, Phillip Margolin and Ridley Pearson leave positive quotes on the book jacket. If you enjoy those authors, I suggest you add Kenneth Oppel to your reading list. The Devil's Cure is exciting proof that this award-winning children's author can write suspense with the big boys.

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