4 out of 4 stars
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Brute beasts roam the Earth, and they are preying on unsuspecting victims. Profiteering is deeply rooted in the midst of all the chaos, as a pharmaceutical company does all it can to protect its financial interests. Alex Hartley and Ingrid Kubilus discovered the actual cause of AIDS through their study. However, in a bid to protect its interests, Orex Laboratories pulls several strings to ensure another paper, submitted several months later, is published first in the American Scientific Journal. When Sylvia Anderson tells her mentor and lead author, Arnold Pittsburgh, that the confirmatory tests do not validate the original conclusion, all hell breaks loose. Thirty-three years later, the carpet slowly unrolls to reveal what has been swept under it for years when a court battle begins.
The case is about sex, yet it is not about sex. Some people have been erecting strong, seemingly impenetrable walls for a long time. Will they come down? What will it take to shake them? What happened between 1985 and 2019? Conundrum, a novel co-authored by Tom Bleakley and Marcia Lange, will provide all the answers and more. Perhaps, who knows, you could join the jurors in laying the case to rest.
In the introductory chapters, the story constantly shifts between the 1980s and 2018 to 2019. The feeling arising from following the two timelines was akin to being caught in the middle of a major storm only to survive to witness its debilitating aftermath. None made sense without the other. While the former brings great unrest and danger, the latter involves coming head-on with unpleasant memories. I immensely enjoyed how the story moved back and forth in time. It made it hard to put the book down, not that there was any dull moment anyway. In addition, the characters are relatable. They are ordinary people, going through different circumstances and handling them in ways that make them humane or otherwise. The reader witnesses a world driven by greed, cruelty, and selfishness, and the immediate reaction is to deny the sad reality. Nonetheless, a spark of hope shines brighter in the darkness.
I like surprises, as they tend to contribute to dramatic tension, which in turn captures the reader’s attention. In this book, the author creatively employs both the element of surprise and dramatic irony. I prefer plot twists and turns arising from the element of surprise, though. In addition, there were some instances of bias. Apart from these two minor issues resulting from personal preference and two grammatical errors, this is a masterpiece. Every reader will appreciate the exceptionally developed, realistic plot and engaging characters. Further, the story is not only absorbing but also thought-provoking.
I contentedly rate Conundrum four out of four stars. The book is suitable for ardent readers of crime fiction, especially legal thrillers. It comprises several cuss words and, hence, I do not recommend it to anyone who dislikes such.
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