What Paddy Chayefsky’s Network was to the Twentieth Century, Paul John Scott’s Malcharist is to the Twenty-First. This is a novel that takes the reader deep inside the Pharmaceutical Empire which invents diseases, creates “patient advocacy organizations” to sell these diseases to the public, manufactures and controls the evidence base purporting to show their nostrums are safe and effective remedies for these diseases, relentlessly gaslights those unfortunate victims harmed by their patent medicines, and smears all who question any of this as “Luddites, anti-vaxxers, tin-foil hatters, and Scientologists.”
Scott interleaves the stories of the chief protagonists — a hack journalist who inadvertently stumbles onto the biggest story of his career, a brilliant but disillusioned ghostwriter for the drugmakers, a sociopathic talk-show psychiatrist, along with several others, to paint a vivid portrait of a world probably few of us even suspect exists — a world of fantastic opulence kings would envy, along with gutter-level cynicism that would gag a goat.
This novel will swallow you whole. Beginning with the first few pages, a feeling of dread begins to take hold, a sensation that only intensifies as the author takes us through one plot twist after another until the distinction between the good guys and the bad guys becomes hopelessly blurred, while the author’s meticulous attention to detail creates a sensation as close to virtual reality as the printed page will ever get.
To paraphrase Aristotle, you may not be interested in the drug companies, but that won’t stop the drug companies from taking an interest in you.
This is a novel everybody needs to read.
Malcharist bounds like a hound as Lee Majors spies with his own eyes, his master is unaware he is up-the-creek, without a paddle.
Griffin Wagner is fighting the devil’s work and suddenly his botched-up visions give him a break into a new world where right is wrong and wrong is right.
America’s psychiatrist charms and harms, ladled thick like butter spread on the luscious lips of a brilliant pen pusher whose guilt takes them through archives, through back alleys and through a race against time, against the mobsters.
In scenes reminiscent of Shelley Jofre and Karen Barth Menzies and a study akin to 329 the twisting and turning romps home to a place where Children of the Cure puts in the virtual.
A bonafide media drama licks along with a pace. Griffin is squirrelled, out-paced by the smoothies and shakers, excruciatingly belittled as the small-time hack in a world where destruction is an art-form.
Selling their souls for their slice of the action, there is layer upon layer of disparate enjoinders woven in around a “holy shit slide” and a “pantomime of science”.
Sniffing around with laugh-out-loud moments, that only a seasoned writer with impeccable craft can muster, for pure eviscerating entertainment value a crescendo of an ending.
Put Children of the Cure next to Malcharist and a winning combination of the tortuous and the hysterical gives Pharma a run for its money, but more important than that, two sides of the same can reach latitudinal heights in these rollickingly good reads from the house that Samizdat built.