Summary: (medical/political thriller) It’s a bad day for Minnesota when the building housing the University of Minnesota’s neurology department blows up, taking the lives of a group of brilliant medical researchers and engineers from Minntronic, a large biomedical manufacturing company. Evidence points to Iranian terrorists, but through a seemingly innocent patient complaint of new migraine headaches, widowed local neurologist Jack Stevens uncovers a conspiracy even more sinister is behind the attack.
Review: Themes of The Manchurian Candidate permeate this thriller by Minnesota author and physician Fritz Strobl. Presidential Migraines introduces Strobl’s series character Dr. Jack Stevens, the man everyone would wish to have as their doctor. He’s compassionate, cool under fire, and has a killer view of Lake Minnetonka from his private clinic. Stevens is also smart and methodical, and he treats his female counterpart, Dana Lafontaine, with chivalry and an appropriate spark of romantic interest that the reader expects may grow in subsequent books. Presidential Migraines is equal parts medical and political thriller. The medicine comes from the development of a new technology that uses magnetic waves to trigger changes in the brain–and a physician’s role in discovering the conspiracy behind its use. The political part involves a Chinese cellular phone company and a presidential election.
STRENGTHS: Tons of local color should appeal to readers who know Minnesota, especially the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Author Strobl clearly loves his home region, and uses familiar local settings & themes to anchor the story in place: Edina, Wayzata, the IDS tower, St. Paul, walleye and wild rice on the menus, and of course the University of Minnesota. Readers with a conservative worldview will find author Strobl’s perspective appealing, with the plot touching on a variety of issues such as concealed weapons permits, multiculturalism, and aspects of U.S. foreign policy.
WEAKNESSES: Contrary to the reader’s expectation, the first physician we meet is not the protagonist, which turns out to be a relief as he is (intentionally) a vile personality who meets a satisfactory end. Presidential Migraines contains many passages of technical details related to neurology, medical examinations, and also geopolitics. Some readers find this type of content engaging; others may end up skimming it to get to the action.
Overall: A thriller that should particularly appeal to Minnesotans and readers who favor the “tech” parts of techno-thrillers.
FCC disclaimer: A free e-copy of this book was given to me for review. As always, I made no guarantee that I would read the book or post a positive review.