“CRY OF THE NEEDLE” By Roger Radford, a Review by Joan Adamak

The Greed of Pharmaceutical Companies
          This is a long and serious novel about a medical condition “adhesive arachnoiditis,” which would be like chemically induced spinal meningitis.  At the end of the book, the author explains why he knows so much about the condition, using that knowledge to write this book.  Although this novel is set in England, we have problems with our FDA approving drugs which doctors testify to that they don’t work, but the power of the pharmaceutical companies get them passed.
          In this instance, the crux of the main plot is that Teresa Kieran, in labor with their fourth child, does not wish the pain and discomfort she had with her three prior children and Dr. Townsend, her physician, urges her to take an epidural, guaranteeing that there would be no pain, but doesn’t warn her about any side effects.  She actually experiences more pain than she did in natural childbirth, complaining to the doctor.  She couldn’t feel the labor pains because of the epidural, but it felt like her back was splitting in two and the nerve endings in her legs physically burn as if on fire.  She never recovers; never can take care of her baby again and is a total invalid.  Some doctors tell her it is all in her head; others dose her on morphine, which does not help.  When she can no longer stand the pain, she uses the drugs to take her life.
          Teresa’s husband, Kieran, had been an IRA member in Ireland, until the troubles were over and they have moved from Belfast to England so he can find work.  He takes a night job so that he can help care for the children during the day.   He is most bitter about her unnecessary condition and death and decides he will make the doctor and anyone else involved pay for her death. Jack Proctor and his beautiful wife, Sharon, own a pharmaceutical company and earn billions of dollars researching and attempting to perfect new drugs.  In the present instance, they are seeking a shot that can make a male infertile since men don’t like to take pills or use condoms.  Throughout the plot, Proctor is hand-in-glove with the Secretary of Health, who is paid sufficiently that he passes anything Proctor provides him.  Scientists that don’t cater to Proctor either die or are fired and Jonathan Tring is the newest scientist to join the firm.
          Jonathan meets Fiona, an investigative reporter who opens his eyes.  There is an Austro-Hungarian countess Magda von Esterhazy, confined to a wheelchair because of this condition, who meets Kieran and introduces a different way of looking at it and how to bring it to the attention of the populace.
          There are a few sexual scenes in good taste because this is a story about people who love, hate, act out and the story would be sterile without them.  The author understands human nature and does an excellent job of character development, education and information on the condition itself and is so real, the reader laughs and cries with the actors in this story.  Once I began reading, I couldn’t lay it down and I recommend it based on what I have set forth above.



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