In an affluent city perched on Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment, residents begin turning up on the pathologist’s autopsy table with what looks like epidemic mad cow disease. Zol Szabo, a public-health doctor and former chef, and Hamish Wakefield, a young infectious-diseases specialist, must trace the epidemic to its source while dodging the deadly prions that appear to have contaminated almost everything in the supermarket. Things spin out of control and more lives are threatened when a government-appointed investigator pulls rank, hijacks the investigation, and allows his inflated ego to supersede common sense.
Incidents of contamination of the food supply are featured almost weekly in the news. In Tainted, the clock is ticking to discover the source of the disease before it can spread, while navigating the political minefield of the hospital and the media.This book is described as "A Dr. Zol Szabo Medical Mystery" and that is exactly what it is. If the reader is looking for a murder in the first few pages of the book, or a fast moving action tale, this is not the book for them. This book moves at a slower pace and focuses more on scientific investigation than crime investigation. It is surprising how some parts of the medical investigation parallels techniques used in police investigations. The need for proof, or at least a high percentage of positive results, is one example. Also the attention that is paid to how the information is presented to the public, so as not to cause unwarranted reactions from concerned citizens.
My husband discovered this book at our local bookstore. This is his review at Goodreads:
An expert medical mystery/thriller that is less whodunit (although there are elements of that) and more whatdunit. I like the well-drawn characters (especially Dr. Zol Szabo, a basically decent and struggling single father) and appreciate how clearly the very complicated science is presented.This was the 11th book I read for the 8th annual Canadian Book Challenge, which ends June 30th, 2015. When reading books for this challenge, I am often reading as much for exposure to the setting and culture of Canada as for the story or the thrill of the read. In this case I also learned about how disease outbreaks are discovered and investigated.
Other characters in the story are a private detective, Colleen Woolton, and Natasha Sharma, a health-unit epidemologist working in the public-health office. Sol brings in the private detective to speed up the investigations. This isn't strictly kosher in a medical investigation but he is under pressure to find an answer fast. Pennie shares a lot about the background of all of his characters. The ones that you get to know the best are Sol and Hamish. As my husband points out, a strong element of the story is Sol’s relationship with his seven-year-old son.
We see enough of the investigation into a possible disease outbreak to get squeamish about the food we eat... or at least that was my reaction. And also to be appalled at the politics involved and the slow pace at which such investigations move. I don't mean to imply that there is no crime involved, but it is more of a sideline than the focus of the book.
This novel had a little more melodrama than I usually like and more romance too, but those fit pretty well in the context of the investigation. There is more action towards the end as the investigators risk their safety to check out a questionable business that markets sausage. The style of writing was competent but what drew me in was the setting and learning about the medical science behind finding the source of infectious disease outbreaks.
Publisher: ECW Press, 2011 (orig. pub. 2009)
Length: 305 pages
Format: Trade Paperback
Series: Dr. Sol Szabo, #1
Setting: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Genre: Medical Mystery
Source: Borrowed from my husband.