A promising research fellow for a venerable think tank in Zurich has just filed his last report, as he is forced into a grisly experiment. . . . A seductive young woman travels to Florida and, from her hotel room window, coolly sharpshoots an old man in a wheelchair as he basks in the late afternoon sun. . . . A psychologist who helps patients confront and dispel past trauma through hypnosis battles his own silent demons. . . . In The Syndrome, John Case combines these intriguing elements into a pulse-pounding, mind-twisting new thriller.
Dr. Jeff Duran suffers from severe panic attacks when he ventures too far outside his home office. At times, he remembers phrases of a foreign language he has never learned. And there are curious memories he cannot explain of distinct smells, music, the spray of ocean sailing. But no sooner do these senses and images begin to surface than they disappear.
Then, after a patient commits suicide, Duran's life spirals out of control. The victim's half-sister, Adrienne Cope, blames Duran for filling her sister's head with "recovered" memories of horrific childhood abuse. But Adrienne soon discovers some shocking facts about him--facts that even he is unaware of.
The stakes are raised when unknown assassins burst into Duran's office and bloodshed ensues. But who is their target: Adrienne or Duran? Running for their very lives, forced to trust each other, they must now work together to unlock the reason why one or both of them is marked for death. For beneath the intrigue lies a dark conspiracy that stretches halfway around the world-- and a sinister plot that could change the course of history.
A relentlessly paced thriller in which nothing is what it seems, no one can be trusted, and nothing is secure--especially one's own memories. The Syndrome is a chillingly, brilliantly conceived novel from a proven master of suspense.
The always intriguing Case (The Genesis Code; The First Horseman) poses another troubling question for the ages in his latest biospeculative thriller. Just what happened to the U.S. government's secret mind-control experiments of the 1960s? In this diverting fictional juggernaut, a shadowy private enterprise, the Prudhomme Clinic, took over where the government left off. It is now kidnapping people, wiping their memories clean and turning them into assassins who target international leaders whom the Prudhomme believes are destabilizing world order. The whole operation, however, is jeopardized when one recreated human, Jeff Duran, manages to break the spell and start questioning who he is, and more importantly, who he was before a computer chip was implanted in his brain. He teams up in his quest with Adrienne Cope, a Washington, D.C., lawyer who has been baffled by the suicide of her sister, who, unbeknownst to Adrienne, was one of the Prudhomme's most skilled killers. Soon after the two begin poking around, they find their lives are in peril. They begin a frantic search for information, dodging attempts on their lives and making one bone-chilling discovery after another. They ultimately find themselves rushing off to Switzerland not only to confront the Prudhomme's leader, but to save the life of Nelson Mandela, who has been targeted for assassination. Explanations of the history and techniques of mind-control experiments as well as the psychology of amnesia add a realistic overlay to what otherwise might have been a fairly formulaic thriller. Case, revealed here for the first time to be the husband-and-wife writing team of Jim and Carolyn Hougan of Virginia, shows the sort of sure-handed storytelling that made their first two books such hot sellers. National ad campaign; author appearances in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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October 28, 2002
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Excerpt from The Syndrome by John Case
June 16, 1996
It wasn't the Grande Jatte. Not exactly. It wasn't even the afternoon. Not
quite. But it felt that way--just like the picture--as if nothing could ever
go wrong. The placid park. The bright and dozy day. The neon-blue lake,
shimmering in the breeze.
Lew McBride was on a long run through the narrow park that follows
the shoreline of the Zurichsee from busy Bellevueplatz out to the sub-urbs.
He'd already gone about three miles, and was on his way back, jog-ging
through the dappled shade, thinking idly of Seurat.
The pointillist's great canvas was peopled with respectable-looking men
in top hats, docile children, and women in bustles carrying parasols. But
the age it captured was two world wars ago, before Seinfeld, the Internet,
and "ethnic cleansing." People were different now, and so were Sunday af-ternoons (even, or especially, when they were the same).
To begin with, it seemed as if half the girls he saw were on cell-phones,
Rollerblades, or both. They had pierced navels and mischievous
eyes, and cruised, giggling, past kids with soccer balls, dozing "guest-workers," and lovers making out in the lush grass. The air was fresh from
the Alps, sunny, cool and sweet, its soft edge tainted now and then with
whiffs of marijuana.
He liked Zurich. Being there gave him a chance to practice his German.
It was the first language he'd studied, chosen in high school be-cause
he'd had a crush on an exchange student. Later, he'd acquired Spanish,
picked up a little French, and even some Creole, but German was
first--thanks to Ingrid. He smiled at the thought of her--Ingrid of the
amazing body--cruising past a marina where sailboats rocked at their
moorings, halyards clanking.
He could barely hear them. He had the volume turned up on his Walkman, listening to Margo Timmons sing an old Lou Reed song about someone called
". . . Jane . . .
Sweet Jane . . ."
Music, books, and running were McBride's secret nicotine and, without
them, he became restless and unhappy. They were the reason he did not
own (could not afford) a sailboat--which he wanted very much. His
apartment in San Francisco was a testament to these obses-sions. Near
the windows, the stereo and the oversized sofa, stacks of books and CDs
stood like dolmens: blues, mornas, DeLillo, and opera. Konpa, rock, and
gospel. Chatwin on Patagonia, Ogburn on Shake-speare. And a dozen books
on chess, which McBride would rather read about than play (except,
perhaps, in Haiti, where he and Petit Pierre sometimes sat for hours in
the Oloffson, hunched over a battered chess-board, sipping rum).
Thinking about it made him miss it--the place, the chess, his friends . . .
As he ran, he glanced at his wristwatch and, seeing the time, picked
up the pace. He had about an hour and twenty minutes until his
ap-pointment at the Institute, and he didn't like to be late. (In fact,
being late drove him crazy.)
Headquartered in Kuessnacht, about twenty minutes from McBride's hotel, the Institute of Global Studies was a small, but venerable, think tank funded by old money flowing from
tributaries on both sides of the Atlantic. Like so many foundations
established in the aftermath of the Second World War, the Institute was
dedicated to the idea--the vague and elusive idea--of world peace. Toward
that end, it hosted con-ferences and awarded fellowships each year to a
handful of brilliant youths whose research interests coincided with the
These included topics as diverse as "the rise of paramilitary formations
in Central Africa," "Islam and the Internet," "Deforestation in Nepal,"
and McBride's own study--which concerned the therapeutic compo-nents of
animist religions. With the Cold War a thing of the past, the
Foundation's directors had formed the opinion that future conflicts
would be "low-intensity" struggles fueled, in most cases, by ethnic and
With advanced degrees in clinical psychology and modern history, McBride had been traveling for nearly two years. During that time, he'd produced reports on, among other things, the mass-conversion tech-niques of faith healers in Brazil, the induction of trance states in Haitian voodoo ceremonies, and the role of "forest herbs" in the rites of Candomble.
Two of these reports had been published in the New York Times Maga-zine, and this had led to a book contract. In three months, his fellowship would be up for renewal and, after thinking it over, he'd decided to take a pass. He was a little tired of living out of suitcases, and ready to focus on writing a book.
And since the Foundation had summoned him to Zurich for their annual
"chat," it was the perfect opportunity to let them know of his decision