August 26, 2005
The Constant Gardner
This novel of John Le Carre starts really well. It has the reader hooked, wanting to race to the hundreth page to find out what happens. The first half of the novel is very gripping and racy at the same time. The characters in their social interplay arouse reader curiosity and have the reader guessing their next move; the guess usually being incorrect. Africa, mostly Kenya is the setting that comes dangerously alive as a shocked and bereaved British diplomat tries to make sense of a violent crime involving his wife and a black doctor.
The theme is especially interesting because it delves into the ethics of the pharmaceutical world, a current hot topic. The plot revolves around the validity of clinical trials that have become the sole launching pads for new drugs. However, if clinical trials go awry, as in the novel, then " Who shall complain? Third world doctors and medical workers who are making money from the trials? The distributor who is making money from marketing the drug.............. How about the patients? Most of the patients are in undemocratic countries with very corrupt systems.........their signatures are on the consent forms even if they cannot read what they have signed...........also they are afraid...........their children will receive no more medicines from America and their men will go to prison."
This novel though first published in 2001, foresaw the turbulence that was to rock the pharma world shortly! Definitely worth reading; if possible, before watching the movie.