Medical detective stories always please me. This one is a little odder because it was co-written with Jon Palfreman and despite the fact that Langston plays a central role in most of the story, it’s written in the third person. This was hard for me to get over even though the story -- a collection of heroin addicts in California who develop severe Parkinson’s like symptoms after injecting some bad drugs -- is pretty interesting.
While Oliver Sacks -- who is the sort of the superstar of this topic for me, though I also enjoy Berton Rouche when I find his stuff -- seems to remain pretty objective, Langston seemed to have some scores to settle. The book seemed to be a way of rehashing old professional conflicts in his own terms and explaining away decisions he might have made. This was all secondary to the major plot and detective work of figuring out what happened to these addicts and how to fix it, but it remained a pretty present subplot throughout the book. I was always aware that the main character and the writer were the same person and when choices were made over who to agree with and who to disagree with, I found myself questioning his motives. This is all pretty petty compared to the scientific information presented about fetal stem cell transplants and Parkinson’s disease and whatnot, but kept the book from being another favorite in this genre.