In Nature's Bite, Dr. Phineas Mann is no ordinary physician, but is assigned to investigate a novel asthma drug treatment developed by the pharmaceutical corporation SynMedical. It's a drug too many will die for in more ways than one, as Phineas and fellow doctor Marie Porter find out the hard way.
Deeply wound into the story are the political struggles and conflicts of a Republican president in his final year in office, the climate change warming that is triggering increases in asthma and other medical issues, and the special forces that have led the FBI to Dr. Mann's doorstep.
In many ways, Phineas is just a country doctor. He's operated away from the political quagmire that has overtaken the country and cultivates a rich home life with wife Iris, a foster beagle, and the more laid-back job a 70-year-old physician should be enjoying as a teacher supervising interns and residents.
The last thing he should be doing at this point in his life is tackling a medical conundrum that holds its roots in politics, climate crisis, and subterfuge.
But, thankfully for readers, he does. And Mark Anthony Powers's attention to details of personal and political milieus carries readers into the story with a vigor and attraction that mystery genre formula writing productions too often lack.
Phineas may be a senior citizen now, but he's clearly not ready to hang up his medical expertise or investigative skills. Both are demonstrated in a story replete with exquisite action, solid attention to the details and conundrums of a personal lifestyle that butts heads with an edict to investigate a new drug, and the ethical and moral issues which arise as he uncovers new truths that place him in uncomfortable positions both personally and professionally.
Powers has created a medical mystery that goes above and beyond the usual medical dilemma to add a special focus and flavor surrounding the ironies and inconsistencies of politics.
Its special blend of satirical reflection and heart-pounding action makes Nature's Bite not just a cut above the ordinary for mystery libraries seeking medical thrillers, but worthy of recommendation to book club readers. This audience will find much food for thought and discussion, providing opportunities to contrast its world-changing themes with other genre approaches to medical suspense writing.