Pinner-born John Bartlett presents an insider’s view of some of the workings of the pharmaceutical industry in his gripping debut thriller

In a story fuelled by rivalry, love and action, Dr Paul Beresford finds himself embroiled in a perilous conflict with the Honourable Sean St Ledger. Their bitter feud stems from their schooldays and is further fuelled by Jill Collins, a beautiful and talented solicitor close to both men, whose fate impacts their actions.

Intrigue and menace intermingle like a strand of DNA as Paul and the ambitious Dr Melissa James race against time to rescue the development of a breakthrough new drug to treat breast cancer. In the pharmaceutical industry, the stakes are high. Higher still when drug trials begin to fail. Paul and Melissa are tasked with solving the mystery.

Travelling between the UK, Hong Kong and St Petersburg, Paul and Melissa are drawn into dangerous situations and a web of secrets, suspicion and revenge. In their pursuit of the truth, they stumble on a plot staggering in its audacity.

Paul is determined to save the drug trials, develop the medicine to save lives and protect his company from falling into the wrong hands. Can he succeed?

The pharmaceutical industry is controversial, seen by some as the source of medicines that have saved and improved lives – human and animal – for decades. Others see ‘Big Pharma’ as responsible for questionable practices, unreasonable pricing and providing medications that may not deliver on their promises. Dr John Bartlett transitioned to human healthcare after practising as a veterinary surgeon. Having held senior positions in several multinational pharmaceutical companies and with almost thirty years’ experience in the industry, John has created a complex plot that showcases the risks, rewards and tension surrounding the development of new medicines.

Early in the development of the novel, John found a 2013 article from The Independent newspaper about the success of a small British pharmaceutical company, Immunocore, using a radically new approach to cancer. Towards the book’s completion, AstraZeneca reported on a trial for breast cancer yielding groundbreaking results. All three elements – a small British startup, progressive technology and impressive new drug results – completely reflected the story of Harrowgate, the fictitious pharmaceutical company in Double Blind. Immunocore now has a global presence.

John is a keen traveller and history enthusiast. He mixes a bit of geography and history into Double Blind as he takes the reader from the sights of Cape Town and Hong Kong to the glamour of St Petersburg, a favourite city with its historical treasures such as the Hermitage Museum, where some of the plot plays out.

John explains another key inspiration for the book: “An underpinning theme of the story is the impact of breast cancer. A close relative has experienced the specific cancer mentioned in the book. I hope that by referring to the effects of this cancer in Double Blind, perhaps readers who have not given sufficient attention to regular checking will be persuaded to do so.”

ISBN: 9781805141303 Price: £9.99

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