Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Irreparable Harm by Randy Singer

Recently I listened to the audio version of Irreparable Harm by Randy Singer, a legal thriller with a bioethical dilemma.  First published in 2003, the topic of cloning may now seem a little dated, but overall the story still had interest.  Mitchell Tahlor is a recent law school graduate whose unsuccessful job hunt ends him up working for Bill Davenport, The Rock, an alcoholic ambulance chaser.  Soon after starting his not-so-dream job, Mitchell is asked to be local counsel for a case that challenges the future of 10 fertilized embryos. 

Dr. Brown, dying from AIDS developed years before from a contaminated needle prick, and his wife had chosen in vitro fertilization after her hysterectomy.  Maryna, a Cambodian immigrant, is the surrogate mother.  On his own, Dr. Brown makes the decision that he does not want the 10 remaining embryos used for anything other than research for an AIDS cure.  In his will he leaves the embryos to GenTech, a biotech company on the forefront of AIDS research.  Shortly after, Dr. Brown dies and his widow Cameron finds out that the baby Maryna is carrying has Downs Syndrome.  The original contract signed by everyone allows the pregnancy to be terminated if "defects" occur. 
Cameron now wants the remaining embryos so that she can seek another surrogate and another chance at a "perfect" child.

Very quickly, Mitchell finds that his Christian beliefs will not allow him to represent Cameron, especially after he learns that the remaining embryos may have been developed from cloned cells, developed before the federal ban.  Then he meet Maryna, who having already bonded with the baby, does not want an abortion, but also fears deportation since she is here illegally.  Despite the fact that Cameron is the daughter of Mitchell's boss, The Rock, Mitchell decides to represent Maryna.

This story is packed with twists that totally surprise the reader.  For now, it will suffice to say that there are enough selfish villains  to populate multiple novels, each with a personal evil plan.  I was able to listen to this book as I sewed, traveled, and walked.  In that capacity, it was an okay time filler, but I don't think I would have been as interested if I had read the print version.  I've read other medical thrillers and this seemed to have too many contrived twists.  How could so many greedy, amoral people end up in the world of medicine?  My recommendation would be to check out other Randy Singer books, read some reviews, and then make your selection.  I am sure you'll find one that you will like better than this one.

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