Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Discarded: Poison Pill by Glenn Kaplan

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Released: October 2013

I recently discovered Poison Pill by Glenn Kaplan at my local bookstore and was instantly intrigued by its synopsis that hints at a delicious scandal involving a pharmaceutical company. Medical thrillers about Big Pharma are highly attractive to me given my career has me working closely with the healthcare industry. Unfortunately, Poison Pill wasn't exactly what I expected...

According to the novel's synopsis, protagonist Emma Conway is a successful businesswoman who invested years of hard work into helping a major pharmaceutical company launch a prescription painkiller to enormous success. Now, Emma's cutthroat Wall Street ex-husband Josh is working with a powerful Russian oligarch intent on taking over her company so he can launch a highly coveted version of Viagra for women. In an effort to make Emma's company's stock plummet, the oligarch has his henchmen taint batches of painkillers with chemicals that result in the death of its consumers. Meanwhile, a secret romance springs up between Emma's teenage son and the oligarch's daughter to "put them in the crosshairs of their parents' mortal combat."

Every reader has their own personal rule when it comes to quitting and discarding a book—I like to read at least 50 pages to give the book a fair chance. I made it all the way to page 63 before deciding I couldn't take it anymore. The clincher? It was the romance, which was overly cheesy and unrealistic!

Poison Pill began to lose me at the start of chapter 6 (page 40 or so), when a beautiful blonde model-turned-journalist shows up at Emma's ex-husband's house to interview him for a magazine (Town & Country, I think?). Before she meets him, we learn how she already feels a strong connection to him on behalf of all the research she did into his background—such as his growing up in Boston and going from rags to riches. Also, she mentions having developed a serious crush on him after looking at a magazine photo in which he gazes at his son with an expression of genuine fatherly "love and pride." Before going into Josh's home for the interview, the bimbo journalist has an extensive inner monologue regarding her plans to "hook" him as her boyfriend, which is pathetic and makes me strongly dislike her character.

The moment Josh and the bimbo journalist are introduced, the flirting dialogue goes way over the top. Both characters instantly fall for one another and experience the same strong chemistry, apparently. This entire chapter (chapter 8) was terrible—I couldn't stop rolling my eyes. I can't even recall an actual romance novel that made me cringe like this one did.

Then, in chapter 9 (page 58 or so), we are subjected to a romantic exchange between the Russian oligarch and his younger bride-to-be, which was just as sappy and cheesy. By that point, I just couldn't take it anymore—it was far too much drama and shallow romance, and not enough suspense, thriller, and espionage. I wanted the author to regale us with details about Big Pharma scandals (whether fictional or not), and wasn't expecting the romance overkill presented. Needless to say, I'm sad and disappointed in Poison Pill.

Other books by Glenn Kaplan featured on include:

Evil, Inc. (2007)
All For Money (1993)
The Big Time (1982)

Have you read Poison Pill or any other books by Glenn Kaplan, and if so, what did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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