Becca Jackson is a medical researcher for her family’s company, Jackson Pharmaceuticals. She has dedicated years of her life trying to develop artificial blood for safer blood transfusions. When the story opens, Becca is in Kenya for a PR tour about the work her company is doing to combat the devastation of AIDS. She also hopes her televised spot will help promote her new autobiography, Pusher: Confessions of an American Pharmaceutical Giant.
Right after her interview, Becca is briefly kidnapped. The kidnappers don’t want a ransom for her life, but compensation for the Kenyans who have suffered from the destructive effects of Jackson Pharmaceuticals test trials for a new HIV drug on women and children. When she is taken to a village to witness these effects first-hand, she is greatly impacted, and returns to the States more determined than ever to make a difference. Another motivating factor for Becca’s efforts is a secret from her past. Twenty years ago, she was in an accident that killed a young boy who was HIV positive from a blood transfusion. Her boyfriend, Noah, was sent to prison because of it. However, the truth is, Becca was the one driving the car, and she has been burdened with guilt ever since.
"...an intelligent, thought-provoking and gripping page-turner that likely will cause you to head to your favorite bookseller and pick up more titles by this talented author."
Noah has been released from prison and works for a pharmaceutical competitor, working toward the same goal of creating a synthetic blood alternative. When Noah and Becca reconnect, it becomes clear that 20 years has not diminished their feelings for each other. Then Becca learns she has a medical condition that both hinders and helps her research in a unique way. As she gets closer and closer to a breakthrough, her condition worsens. Now the question is: Will she risk her own life --- and possibly a future with Noah --- to save millions of people around the world?
LIP READING is a medical thriller that delivers not only a fresh and exciting plot, but also intriguing psychological suspense. Author Harry Kraus digs deep into the motivations of his main characters, and he does so with the skill for which he’s known. Both Becca and Noah are flawed and dealing with realistic inner demons from the past. Becca’s, in particular, are especially prominent and drive every move she makes in her work, as well as keep her from investing her heart in relationships.
The plot itself is fascinating and unique. Kraus is a surgeon, currently working in Kenya as a medical missionary, and his knowledge and experience certainly give his novels more authenticity and credence. His love for Kenya and his compassion for the Kenyan people also shine through, and even though only a small portion is set in that country, it plays a role in the overall storyline. The mystery is subtly and cleverly woven, and several surprises and curve balls are tossed in along the way.
Besides an awareness of the devastating effects of HIV, readers are offered an opportunity to consider a few things about human flaws and frailties, including fear, selfishness, greed, and even ultimate mortality.
LIP READING will be enjoyed by men and women alike. However, if you’re looking for a bullet-dodging, blow-em-up thriller, you won’t find it here. What you will find is an intelligent, thought-provoking and gripping page-turner that likely will cause you to head to your favorite bookseller and pick up more titles by this talented author.
Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on May 25, 2014