Publication Date: February 7, 2014
In Gridlock: A Scientific Thriller by Alvin Ziegler, Jude Wagner is part of the team the developed The Grid, a computer program designed to customize health care for patients. There are powerful people who would do anything to keep the program from becoming public, but are they the people killing off the programs developers or are there bigger forces at work?
The author’s publisher, Loma Vista Press, gave me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
Medical thrillers aren’t exactly my wheelhouse. An overload of scientific principles in a recipe for boredom, which is why Gridlock: A Scientific Thriller was the perfect medical thriller for this reader. Ziegler, who has a strong background in medicine and computer science, gives the reader all of the facts to be convincing but not so inscrutable as to weigh the story down. The author is able to put complex concepts before us in layman’s terms. I found myself stopping several times while reading in awe of the impact of this very real idea (see the author’s End Note) set out before us. How great would it be if our health care was customized just for us?
Gridlock: A Scientific Thriller is Ziegler’s first novel and shows the signs of an author with talent looking to tackle what is perhaps a timely subject. At the start of the novel, the ill-fated Dr. Hideo Onagi presents the idea to people who might donate to its success; he tells them that customized health care will be more expensive but also more effective. Social commentary, popular or not, sets the stage for this impressive, knowledgeable work. Living in a country with government-funded health care has its advantages but also marked disadvantages. Ziegler makes a note in his story of the challenges patients on a metaphorical box care through a system face encounter.
Gridlock: A Scientific Thriller features a number of rather generic characters. Even the assumed main character, Jude Wagner, seems to lack a unique voice. He’s is a somewhat generic lead. When we meet Jude, he’s something of a bad boy programmer. We never seem to really delve into this character’s motivations as the story line progresses. On the other hand, Ziegler’s antagonist is sheer brilliance. Readers know I love baddies in a story and Ziegler just does it right. What we lack in character and story-line development, Ziegler makes up in pacing. Ziegler’s writing style leaves the reader barreling from a big idea to a bigger idea, crashing into the knowledge nuggets laced through the narrative. Readers may not notice the story lines left hanging because what Ziegler does wrap up, he does so in a tidy and logical style.
If you like medical thrillers and have a strong interest in current affairs, give this novel a shot. Keep your eyes open for Ziegler’s next novel as this author has the talent and is sure to develop the focus.
Read an excerpt and buy Gridlock: A Scientific Thriller by Alvin Ziegler on