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The Kindling Effect: A Medical Thriller Hardcover – September 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 373 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co; 1st edition (September 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688142982
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688142988
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,636,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Although the jargon that supports it can be thick ("The olfactory bulb, with its hair-cell receptor neurons, had strong limbic connections to the amygdala, septum, even the hypothalamus"), the premise of Hernon's medical thriller is clear. Researchers at the prestigious, well-financed Hartigan clinic in St. Louis are on the verge of reading the brains of "ASPs, the antisocial personality," and may soon be able to control the behavior of violent criminals. They face two problems, however: the process tends to "kindle" the criminal mind, causing psychotic episodes among the clinic's inmates; and someone on the staff is helping these inmates to escape. Into this scenario steps young physician John Brook, dazzled by the opportunity to work at the clinic. There, Brook and fellow Hartigan staffer Dr. Jenny Malone, who resume their med-school affair, become involved with Edward Lind, a patient who escapes. The plot turns silly when Brook decides to meet the fugitive Lind ("I owe him that much. He trusted me") in a dark alley, even though Brook belatedly realizes Lind "could flip out at any moment and turn on him." There is mention of a Fundamentalist warden and of a right-wing Texan who provide, respectively, prisoners and money for the experiments. The story winds up with a prolonged, gory climax in the Smoky Mountains during a blizzard. Hernon (Earthly Remains, 1989) paces his action well, but his prose is only serviceable and, as a storyteller, he's no Michael Palmer or Robin Cook. Nor is he, for that matter, a Michael Crichton, who explored the premise of brain research leading to violent behavior with far more panache nearly a quarter century ago, in The Terminal Man.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In this suspenseful thriller by Hernon, who coauthored the best-selling Under the Influence (LJ 7/91), two mild-mannered doctors endeavor to study violent criminals and end up being terrorized by their subjects and by their subjects' keepers. Studying the brains of two violent prisoners at a psychiatric clinic, our heroes discover that someone is changing the men's brains by causing a "kindling effect" of continuous small seizures. The seizures make the criminals even more dangerous, and the doctors' knowledge makes them a liability to the experimenter, who frees the criminals so that they may dispose of the doctors. The breathless reader will be too caught up in the suspense to notice that the amount of killing is excessive and implausible and that the motivation of the bad guys is less than clear. Recommended for thriller collections in public libraries.?Marylaine Block, St. Ambrose Univ. Lib., Davenport, Ia.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By scottjp@cris.com on October 12, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Not my usual type of book, but my mom thought I'd like it so I borrowed it from her. A new doctor at a psych bospital becomes involved in something dangerous when he discovers forbidden experiments being performed on human patients, and with another doctor (read: love interest) decides to do some investigating of his own. "Kindling" is a method of electrically burning out criminal tendencies in the human brain, but sometimes it has the opposite effect. Two of the patients, one a serial killer and rapist, the other a once relatively harmless pervert, are somehow freed and embark on a killing spree that culminates in a painfully drawn out showdown in the mountains.
I have to admit, the hero's (and apparently, the author's) pro-animal research stance (he calls animal rights activists "nuts") put a bad taste in my mouth early on, but it still doesn't affect my opinion of the book as a whole. It just isn't very well written and the story isn't new or even exciting. It seemed like something Hollywood would spew out into the multiplex with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in the leads. I know I'm not very experienced in the med thriller genre as far as literature goes, but there's got to be better work out there than this.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 17, 1999
Format: Hardcover
NOT AT ALL. I found this book to stimulate my brain waves as it proceeded to enlighten me to the possiblity of "brain-tampering" to alter criminal behaviour. Though (I hope) this book is border-line science fiction , I fear that its future possibilty might in fact exist. It is both fast-paced and suspenseful. It is also somehat graphic..if you are "squeamish", I would suggest you forget the book, get a plate of cookies, a glass of milk and retire to bed early. But, as for me, I found it to be time well spent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By E. Bowden on December 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Amazing thirller. Experiments on rapists and murderers. Messing with their brains. Best book I've read in years. Couldn't put it down. Have read it more than once now. Amazing.
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