The Syndrome by John Case (pseudonym for husband and wife team of Jim & Carolyn Hougan) was originally published in 2001. My hardcover copy is 455 pages. This is one novel that lives up to the title of thriller and is probably the best of the three John Case novels I've read so far (The Genesis Code and The First Horseman). The intrigue starts immediately and continues straight through a series of seemingly unconnected events to the unraveling of the mystery and conclusion. My only complaint was that the end seemed rather abrupt after all the action leading up to it. This was a great read for escapism. Rating: 4.5
Synopsis from the publisher:
A promising research fellow for a venerable think tank in Zurich is forced into a grisly experiment...A seductive young woman coolly sharpshoots an old man in a wheelchair as he basks in the late afternoon sun...A psychologist who helps patients confront past trauma battles his own silent demons...In The Syndrome, John Case combines these intriguing elements into a pulse-pounding, mind-twisting new thriller.
Dr. Jeff Duran suffers from severe panic attacks when he ventures too far outside his home office. And he is inexplicably haunted by mysterious memories, and phrases of a foreign language he never learned. Then, after a patient tormented by "recovered" memories commits suicide - and her half-sister, Adrienne Cope, blames Duran - his life spirals out of control.
Suddenly targeted by unknown assassins, he and Adrienne must run for their very lives. Forced to trust each other, they must now work together to unlock the reason why one or both of them is marked for death. For beneath the intrigue lies a dark conspiracy that stretches halfway around the world - and a sinister plot that could change the course of history.
A relentlessly paced thriller in which nothing is what it seems, no one can be trusted, and nothing is secure - especially one's own memories - The Syndrome is a chillingly, brilliantly conceived novel from a proven master of suspense.
"Music, books, and running were McBride's secret nicotine and, without them, he became restless and unhappy. They were the reason he did not own (could not afford) a sailboat - which he wanted very much." pg. 2
"There was only a fraction of a second to take things in, and no time at all to make sense of it. What he saw was this: a man in surgical scrubs with a gas mask over his face." pg. 7
"Opdahl began the procedure known as "degloving," delicately prying the younger man's face away from the skull, peeling the skin back to reveal a direct passage into his brain." pg. 10
"Like everyone else, she had her highs and lows except, in her case, the highs were in orbit and the lows could give you black lung. The lithium kept her on an even keel - which was good, if you liked even keels." pg. 14
"For whatever reason, he was peculiarly attuned to the pitches and hums of machines - the whir and chink of the icemaker, the somnolent hum of the air conditioner, the gush and gurgle of water in the dishwasher. Any change in the acoustics of his appliances, no matter how subtle, struck him immediately, the malfunction as apparent as a burglar's sneeze at midnight." pg. 56
"The truth was: when you got right down to it, it wouldn't be unfair to say that he didn't remember a soul. Not really. Not at all." pg. 100