Fiction - Thriller - Medical
244 Pages
Reviewed on 09/03/2020
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Author Biography

Juma Pamoja is a doctor and author of Pharmacrime. He has worked for many years in the health sector in different parts of the world and has a particular interest in Africa. He has written medical papers and has experience in academia, government and not-for-profit sectors. Born and brought up in East Africa, Juma’s family left after troubles there and ended up in the UK. His writing tries to bring to fictional life some of these experiences in a way that he hopes is entertaining, authentic and maybe helps with positive change. When not researching obscure medical facts and pottering about the garden, he runs a bit.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite

In Pharmacrime by Juma Pamoja, when a British doctor volunteering in a Nairobi clinic has to face the death of yet another child from HIV, he is faced with allegations from the mother that the HIV drugs given to her child were counterfeit. Although everyone in authority at the clinic accuses the mother of being a conspiracy theorist and a liar, Lenny decides to carry out his own investigations into the allegations. He finds that the deaths are commonplace in the poorer areas of the country but quite rare in the more affluent areas. On the surface, everything seems in order until he uncovers some disturbing evidence. Lenny struggles to find anyone in authority to help him in his fight against the criminal cartels dealing with counterfeit drugs. What he unearths places his safety at risk and even when he is forced to leave Kenya, those in power wish to silence him and ruin his entire reputation. Can Lenny help save the lives of the most vulnerable and bring a billion-dollar criminal industry to its knees?

Pharmacrime by Juma Pamoja has an extremely compelling plot and covers a little known subject that threatens the lives of many in developing countries around the world. The twists and turns were superb and definitely kept my interest. I thought the characters were created with much sensitivity, especially the tribeswomen and the brutal, inhumane life experiences they endured. Lucy was another great character and gave Lenny the much needed emotional support to continue his investigations. The characters' development throughout the story was perfect. The suspense and conflict of the storyline also made this a real page-turner. The entire novel was evidently well-researched regarding the cultural and social problems facing Kenya, especially those living in the slum areas of the country. I do hope the author writes more on this subject, as highlighting this corruption and negative ethnicity can only benefit the fight against criminal cartels.

Shrabastee Chakraborty

Lenny is a UK-based doctor volunteering in public health sectors in Kenya, his native country. After a child dies from AIDS, his mother claims that the free anti-HIV medication supplied by the government is fake. Although everyone seems certain that the mother is lying, Lenny is unable to disregard her accusations. His investigations hint at some suspicious activities during the production and distribution of the drugs. While trying to solve the mystery, Lenny and his friend Josiah become entangled in a twisted scheme involving top-ranking health officers and ministers. How will Lenny prove that the drugs are substandard and the whole scheme is fraudulent? What about the death threats he receives even after being forcibly deported back to the UK? Pharmacrime by Juma Pamoja will provide all the answers.

Although described as a medical thriller, Pharmacrime is more of a political thriller. The plot is so full of tense situations that adrenaline rushes were my constant companions while reading. Juma Pamoja’s insightful understanding of Kenyan politics is evident on every page. The novel paints an authentic picture of the hostilities between different tribes, the open corruption in various sectors, and the violent altercations that frequently break out in the streets. In this tale, Pamoja weaves together several alarming yet seemingly unrelated issues such as corrupt politics, adulteration of life-saving drugs, and ethnic cleansing. At the same time, this novel holds a beacon of hope for the oppressed, highlighting the importance of unity and perseverance to win against all odds. I would recommend this book to readers who appreciate books dealing with social issues.

Vernita Naylor

What is happening to the people in Kenya that visit the local clinic? It appears that the patients are taking the same "free government" ARV drugs for HIV but some are dying from it while others are not. This is a mystery that Dr. Lenny must quickly uncover during his volunteer stint from the UK to Kenya in the book, Pharmacrime by Juma Pamoja. This mystery thriller will have you on the edge of your seat as the reader goes throughout the hospital with Dr. Lenny as he cares for and talks to the patients about what is happening. Dr. Lenny needs to find out if people are imagining the ineffective results or are they telling the truth about the drugs from the local clinic? As Dr. Lenny digs deeper, it appears that there is something sinister going on. As the Public Health Physician, Dr. Lenny needs to know the truth before it's too late.

Pharmacrime is about trust, sacrifice, and overcoming challenges. I enjoyed this book because Juma Pamoja used his experiences in the medical profession to create a story of truth. The reader will learn a lot about the relationship between the government and humanity. Even though the story is fiction, the reader will be able to better understand how drug trials are usually handled within a third world country. To continue with his investigation and to avoid detection with the help of the women in the village, Dr. Lenny was able to strategically craft a plan to bring this crime to the light. If you're looking for a great thriller to curl up with, you won't have to look any further. Highly recommended. Get your copy today.

Grant Leishman

In Pharmacrime by Juma Pamoja, we meet Lenny, a young doctor and public health practitioner. The son of a Kenyan man and an Englishwoman, Lenny spent his formative years in Kenya but after his mother was murdered when she tried to expose a major banking scandal, he traveled to Britain where he trained as a doctor. Determined to help his Kenyan compatriots and use his medical skills for good, Lenny has returned to Kenya as a volunteer to help the Kenyan government implement their massive HIV/Aids drug treatment program to solve the scourge ravaging Kenya and so many other African countries. When Lenny begins to hear anecdotal evidence that certain portions of the population do not seem to be benefitting from the drug program, he decides to dig deeper and see if there is fraud going on. When Lenny begins to uncover corruption reaching to the highest levels, he realizes he and his boyhood friend, who he has co-opted into helping him, are in real danger. Lenny, it seems, is at great risk of following his mother’s sad example and becoming just another statistic in the battle against corruption in Africa. Caught between age-old tribal animosities and powerful, corrupt politicians, Lenny must find a way to help the poor and dying people of Kenya and somehow stay alive doing it.

Pharmacrime highlights something that is undoubtedly a major problem, especially in developing countries, and author Juma Pajoma’s novel shining a light on this dirty practice is a beacon in itself. The story is fast-paced and full of dangerous and exciting action. Lenny, as the main character, is interesting and unusual. He clearly has issues with his mixed parentage as well as being somewhat naïve as to the workings of African bureaucracy, despite his half-Kenyan status. This made him appealing as a main character – he certainly was not a caped crusader or a James Bond type. The highlight of the story from my perspective is the wonderful relationship between the two boyhood friends. Despite the years apart and the abruptness of Lenny’s previous departure, it was clear the bonds of brotherhood between the pair ran deep. I particularly enjoyed the dynamic tensions between the participants in the drama, especially Lenny and Lucy. Knowing who to trust was always a difficult decision for all of them to make and the author did a good job of keeping the plot nuances changing and unpredictable. All in all, this was an enjoyable read and highlighted one of the major problems facing many developing countries, not just in Africa. A good read.