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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Touch....the ability to cure all..or is it?

The Touch
By F. Paul Wilson
Forge Trade Paperback; $14.99

To begin reading a story and to discover it is the third book in a series is usually fairly irritating to my way of thinking. There are, however, exceptions to the rule and some sequels can stand alone and be satisfying for the reader.

“The Touch,” by F. Paul Wilson, is the third installment in “The Adversary Cycle” series. Originally published in 1986, the book has been hailed as a science-fiction classic, and the new edition now includes the short story “Dat-Tay-Vao,” which was the starting point for the novel itself.

Dr Alan Bulmer is your average hometown family doctor. He even makes the rare house calls on occasion. But after an encounter with a dying homeless man the good doctor discovers he has acquired the ability to heal any illness with the touch of his hand, and his life changes in ways he never could have imagined. Suddenly, people from all walks of life show up at his office, seeking at first, then demanding that he heal them or their loved ones. Even his own wife is mortified by this new “gift” and insists that Alan quit doing his “healing” work and get back to their normal life.

Alan’s only supporter turns out to be Sylvia Nash, the mother of a patient, who wants to help Alan use his newfound powers for immense good. It was Sylvia’s Vietnamese gardener Ba who recognized Alan’s powers for what they are, the Dat-Tay-Voa, and although he tries to warm the doctor that his new gift might cost him in other ways, his warning are pushed aside.

When the high-powered but ailing Senator James McCready learns of Alan’s abilities, he offers the use of his family’s medical foundation to learn more about Alan’s supposed powers. But in reality, the Senator is more interested in using Alan’s powers to cure himself so that he’ll be able to run for the Presidency.

When Alan’s powers begin to take their toll on Alan himself, it’s a race against the clock to determine what good he can accomplish on the whole without sacrificing his morals or dignity.

F. Paul Wilson delivers a fast-paced, suspense filled novel that keeps the reader on the edge of their seats until the very last page. Although “The Touch” has been touted as a medical horror story, I personally didn’t feel a sense of horror in reading the tale, but a sense of wonder about what if it were truly possible. Wilson’s including the short story from which the basis of this novel evolved was a stroke of genius.

I highly recommend “The Touch.”

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