Robin Cook is an American novelist who is best known for combining medicle writing with thriller genre. This book is of the same style and solves a seventeenth century mystery.
The story describes a small village town in Salem in 1692. Elizabeth Stewart is alone at the house as her husband, a navy merchant is away at the seas. The story starts off with one of her child hallucinating for which she is executed on the the charges of practising witchcraft. The situation is too mind boggling for a seventeenth century mind.
The story then jumps to 1994. Elizabeth’s direct descendent Kimberly Stewart is a nurse at the hospital. Her boyfriend Edward Armstrong is a researcher at Harvard who is keenly interested in the Salem mystery. He finds out the bread which Elizabeth had baked was fungus infected and that hallucination was one side effect of it. Edward further researches on the fungus and separates an alkaloid which turns out to be a great antidepressant.
Kim had inherited the house of Elizabeth and the neighbouring place in which she and Edward shifted. Edward turns the nearby building into a lab and quickly starts the process of patenting the drug he had discovered and starting a business. However to accelerate the process Edward and his colleagues, whom he had invited to research upon the drug, start testing the drug on themselves as it is non toxic. This event turns out to be fateful and Salem is once again reminded of the incident that happened in the 1690’s.
Kim is a sensitive, caring and industrious woman. Edward on the other hand is obsessed to reasearch and even more obsessed after the discovery of the million dollar drug. As the book progresses he becomes more and more greedy working tirelessly to bring the drug in the market. In hurry he makes rash decision which ultimately proves to be fateful.
Overall the book expresses the negative side effects of drugs and medicines. Also he explores a whole new site of entrepreneurship in the medical field. It is an interesting take on the 1690’s Salem witch trials and also shows why ‘feel good’ and confidence enhancing drugs should be avoided. Overall the book is a thrilling experience and the climax even more so.