In THE PRIZE, by Geoffrey M. Cooper, two scientists are pitted against each other in the race to cure Alzheimer’s (and win a Nobel prize). When Pam Weller reaches a breakthrough, Eric Prescott does everything within his power to derail her research— and her life.
This captivating book sheds a light on the politics and human flaws that affect research in scientific institutions. We are given a protagonist, the tenure candidate Pam Weller, who believes in the system and its supposed objectivity. She is an underdog with lofty goals: to reach tenure and find a cure that could positively impact countless lives. But what really makes this story shine is its villains. And Cooper delivers a stunning antagonist who is as manipulative as Iago from Shakespeare’s Othello. Though not entirely evil or without conscience, Eric Prescott continually pushes his moral boundaries and uses his considerable clout as an established authority in the scientific community in order to attain his goal.
The narrative is written for the most part in close third person with some quick slips into first person to let the reader in on characters thoughts. Scenes alternate between a handful of main characters and the overall flow of the story is well balanced. However, the reader follows the antagonist from the planning stages of the crime right through to the completion of the crime and its aftermath. After that, the book follows the protagonist’s attempt to determine if a crime was committed at all and, if so, to uncover it. This is an unusual structure for a thriller and somewhat robs the plot of much of its potential to create suspense. But with such amazing antagonist-writing skills, it’s no wonder the choice was made to spend more time with the villains. They are perfectly flawed and utterly fascinating.
Fortunately, the book is written well enough to maintain some suspense even though the crime is already revealed. The question transforms from “Who did it?” to “Will they get caught?” and “Will Pam’s career survive?”
This is a great read for science lovers and anyone who enjoys a big, juicy scandal.
~Ditrie Marie Bowie for IndieReader