What could the Shroud of Turin, a conservative Southern senator, and an entrepreneurial researcher have in common? Here politics, religion and bioscience collide in the latest novel from the master of the medical thriller.
Senator Ashley Butler is a quintessential demagogue whose support of traditional American values includes a knee-jerk reaction against virtually all biotechnologies. When he's called on to chair a sub-committee introducing legislation to ban new cloning technology, the senator views it as a keystone to his political future. As a consequence, Dr Daniel Lowell - inventor of a technique that will take stem-cell research up to the next level - sees a barrier being raised before his biotech start-up.
These seemingly opposite personalities may clash during the Senate hearings, yet the two men share a common failing. Butler's hunger for political power far outstrips his genuine concern for the unborn; while Lowell's pursuit of massive personal wealth and celebrity overrides any real considerations for his patients' well-being.
Further complicating their confrontation is the confidential news that Senator Butler has developed Parkinson's disease - which leads the senator and the researcher into a Faustian pact. But in attempting to utilise Lowell's new technology prematurely, the therapy leaves the senator with the horrifying effects of temporal lobe epilepsy - causing seizures of the bizarrest order.
Taken straight out of tomorrow's headlines, Seizure is a cautionary tale for this age when new biotechnological discoveries are pulling us ever further into a promising yet frightening new world.