Review | Trial #1322 | Ryan Butcher

I had to take some medication recently for labyrinthitis (an imbalance in the inner ear caused by an infection) and the product details in the pills packet said that they were also prescribed for schizophrenia. I pondered for quite awhile as to how the pharmaceutical company had developed the drug for one condition and found it would deal with the other. I really hope that wherever it was trialled bore no resemblance to Trial #1322!

Trial #1322 is a medical / psychological thriller set in a hospital where drug trials take place. Three friends, Laura, Natalie and Jason, have signed up for several days participation in a drugs trial in return for a large amount of cash.

I've seen the odd television show about drugs trials both fact and fiction and wondered about the motivation of the human guinea-pigs involved in the trials. Well in Trial #1322 their motivation is quite simple and straightforward: cash. The three friends are all twenty-somethings who are short of cash for various reasons and highly motivated to tap into the £2500 on offer for taking part in the trials. This novel really raises the question, how far are you prepared to go for money? And the answer here is, a very long way indeed.

I don't want to give the plot away but the three unpleasant, selfish, central characters in this novel have few moral scruples as far as money is concerned. As the trials progress they find themselves in an increasingly disturbing situation. Be warned there is strong language and scenes of a sexual and violent nature in this novel.

The writing style in Trial #1322 is immediate and colloquial and the reader jumps around inside the heads of Laura, Natalie and Jason which could be confusing but the author manages to stay in control. Consequently the plot moves along with good pace and a strong forward drive. As the plot unfolds you get to know the characters very well and although each has some very unappealing traits you find yourself developing some sympathy for them too. The supporting characters are well imagined; at least I hope some of them are imaginary because otherwise I shall be sleeping less comfortably at night.

The novel ends with a conundrum for the reader in relation to the effects of the medication being trialled and where the hallucinations end and reality begins. There is a really neat little sting in the tail as well. An enjoyable first novel from Ryan Butcher and I shall be keeping a look out for what comes next.