The dreaded slump.

We've all been there. A period when nothing seems to hold our interest. No book feels right for the moment. Even old favorites don't seem to fix it.

I put movies in the back seat for the past several years, and I've been excited about them again. I'm watching a lot more, collecting titles, exploring new cinematic horizons, and thinking about movies.

Plus, it's been a tough time lately. I was sick for nearly two months. I had Covid and was on various medications and basically felt like crapola. It was easier to watch a movie than concentrate on a book.

I got better and I enthusiastically did some yard work. I injured my sciatic nerve. There was a lot of pain, and then muscle relaxers. Again, it was easier to watch movies than read.

I tried quite a few books. I unwisely ordered something by an acclaimed newish writer on the independent horror scene. I got around three pages in, hated it, and threw the book aside. When will I learn?

I even picked up a treasured Heinlein title I hadn't read since my teens. Surely that would cure my reading ails. Nope, I couldn't maintain interest.

Drastic measures were required. When all else fails...when nothing else works...F. Paul Wilson.

No writer I've read has been as consistently entertaining, so thought-provoking, so engaging as F. Paul Wilson. His career has been all over the literary map, toiling in horror, SF, medical thrillers, action-adventure, and sometimes hybrids of all of the above.

I read every Wilson title as they were published. Time has passed and I've been revisiting them one at a time. Unlike some books I could mention, Paul's are always worth re-evaluation.

I chose the 1995 release, Implant.

I'm sure of his reasons, but F. Paul turned to medical thrillers in the nineties. Horror was in the doldrums and his own career as a physician gave him intimate insight into the medical field. I loved every one of the books.

Implant is definitely one of the better ones.

Paul has always excelled in his depiction of women characters. Implant features a young Washington DC doctor, Gina, who wishes to enter the world of politics to help change the way the health care is handled in America. She sought out and landed a part time job with an enthusiastic Senator.

Gina keeps her position as an assistant to brilliant plastic surgeon Duncan Lathram. Lathram and his brother have developed an agent that greatly accelerates the healing process of scars. It is administered in an implant. Lathram has other, more sinister motives. He is putting a delayed reaction psychoactive serum into implants for certain politicians who are, in his mind, destroying the integrity of the field.

Since the drug he uses was never registered and is undetectable, autopsies reveal nothing. The politicians keep their plastic surgery a tightly guarded secret, so Lathram isn't suspected.

I gave away a big plot point, but it isn't much of a spoiler. I knew what was going on almost immediately. Implant is more of a suspense yarn than a mystery.

With the help of an old friend who is an FBI agent, Gina must stop Lathram. The agent is an archetypal Wilson character. Not quite a Repairman Jack clone, but in a similar vein.

Duncan Lathram is a complicated character. It's hard to disagree with his endless complaints about political bureaucracy. His dire predictions, made in '95, have mostly come true. The health care field is run by insurance companies, big pharma, medical groups, and greedy political corruption. Like most zealots he carries his conviction way too far.

Implant reads like a fast-paced movie. It's a shame F. Paul Wilson has had such poor luck getting his work adapted. I'm not a big Michael Mann fan anyway, but The Keep is an atrocity by any standard. There were a few decent TV anthology adaptations of his work, and some really low budget little movies. Repairman Jack, perfect for a franchise, stayed in Development Hell for decades.

A shame, but we have the books, and there are a lot of them. I recommend Implant as well as every other title Wilson ever published.

Written by Mark Sieber

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