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The Syndrome by John Case




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Just in time for Summer vacation reading, John Case has delivered a new novel, The Syndrome. This page-turner builds with suspense and leaves the reader questioning who and what are real and who and what have been created.

John Case is the pseudonym for Jim and Carolyn Hougan, who also wrote recommended books The Genesis Code and The Fifth Horseman. Readers familiar with Washington, D.C. will enjoy the local details, some real and some made up. Here’s a sample of their writing:

“Shapiro smiled. ‘Memory’s not much more than a slurry of chemicals and electrical potentials – which aren’t that difficult to manipulate, if you know what you’re doing. For instance – it’s well known – if you raise the level of acetylcholine in the brain – and you can do that by hitting the subject with radio waves at ultrasonic frequencies – the synapses begin to fire more and more slowly until … well, until they don’t fire at all. And when that happens, remembering becomes impossible. The memories are there, but they’re inaccessible.’
’So you could impose amnesia,’ Adrienne suggested.
’Exactly. More tea?’
It was all so civilized, McBride thought. This charming and matter-of-fact old man, serving tea in his ascetic little house. Under the circumstances, it was hard to hate him for the damage that he’d done, hard to conjure the horrors that he’d contrived. Hard, but not impossible. McBride could feel the anger rising, a primitive ruckus in the back of his mind. The bulls. The cats. The ochre room. The virtual Jeff Duran. He’d like to smack this syrupy son of a botch – let him know what the sound of one-hand clapping was really like. Instead, he said, ‘Let me ask you a question.’”

At four hundred and fifty pages, there’s plenty of page turning here to enjoy.

Steve Hopkins, June 24, 2001


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