Medical Miracle Turns Into Deadly Game of Cat and Mouse

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The Cancer Code

What’s it About?

A Brilliant New York biochemist must keep his miracle cure out of the hands of a ruthless pharmaceutical corporation

Affordable healthcare, regulations on pharmaceutical corporations and scientific advancements in these areas are some of the hottest topics in the current American zeitgeist. Notable figures such as Martin Shkreli, and issues such as the pricing of insulin and other inelastic medical goods have time and time again caused uproar regarding how the industry should be regulated. Should capitalism be allowed to run rampant? Or should these drugs be more easily accessible at the cost of higher government interference. 


Screenwriter and director Andrew Findlay’s latest novel, The Cancer Code, does an excellent and at times scarily realistic job of illustrating these real life issues and painting a picture of extremes that might very well become reality at our current rate.


Jim MacWaide is an altruistic New York biochemist, on the run from the world’s most powerful pharmaceutical company with the ‘Holy Grail’ of drugs under his arm. 


Coming from a renowned Napa wine-making family, Jim has spent three years obsessively experimenting on the properties of Resveratrol, an extract of the red grape. After achieving miraculous results in regenerating human tissue cells, he shares 90% of his discovery with his employers, Gluck Schmidt Little, but quickly gets cold feet. 




Realizing too late that once the ruthless pharma giant gets hold of the ‘Holy Grail’ of cures, they will bury it in order to preserve vast profits, Jim decides at the last minute to withhold the key component of the cure. When his bosses hire a brutal interrogator to address the issue, Jim hits the road and embarks on a race to find a non-profit organization for his miracle cure before his actions catch up with him.


Without a doubt my favorite aspect of the novel is how much of it is grounded in reality. Both in terms of how relevant it is to our society and how faithful the content is to real pharmaceutical science. While the technical terms and in-depth explanations may seem detrimental at first, I found they played exceptionally well into the characterization of the main character, who despite his questionable social skills is a natural scientific genius. The detailed and empirical subject matter also gives credence to the story, and made it so I could easily see similar events happening in real life.


I also enjoyed Findlays narrative and writing style. Despite the heavy, realistic and scientific content, Findlays mastery of fast-paced drama is reminiscent of early John Grisham. The author’s use of time jumps is also well-executed. While jumping between points in time can often be a headache for readers when not done well, Findlay uses them to hook the reader right out of the gate and keep them engaged throughout the entire run. Although, due to the scientific nature, Findlay’s prose is longer-winded than those of other thriller writers, I did not find this to be a detriment, as the explanations were often necessary to understanding the greater story. 


A seamless blend of science, romance, espionage and action paired with a serpentine narrative and characters that are both unique and believable, The Cancer Code will easily appeal to both scientifically inclined individuals and readers of more typical thriller fiction.


About the author:


Andrew Findlay has been a screenwriter working in Europe and Hollywood for many years, for TV movies and feature screenplays. He was formerly a TV director in the UK before moving to California in 1997. His previous novel is ABSENTIA, a mystery intrigue about a world famous self-help guru in crisis.

The Cancer Code by

Publish Date: 6/14/2013

Page Count: 342 pages

Publisher: Winegot Books

ISBN: 9780955444869

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