Bad Medicine

Overview

Dr. Push Foster takes a 2-year job at the Lukachukai Health Station with no thought that he will soon be plunged into a medical mystery and crisis: the outbreak of a pneumonia-like illness whose terrible swiftness makes it almost impossible to treat. And most mysteriously all the victims have been Navajo, and young. With contacts at the CDC in atlanta, push calls in all the expert help he can. But the scientific answers to what is eventually identified as the rodent-borne hanta virus are unsatisfying, even ...
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Overview

Dr. Push Foster takes a 2-year job at the Lukachukai Health Station with no thought that he will soon be plunged into a medical mystery and crisis: the outbreak of a pneumonia-like illness whose terrible swiftness makes it almost impossible to treat. And most mysteriously all the victims have been Navajo, and young. With contacts at the CDC in atlanta, push calls in all the expert help he can. But the scientific answers to what is eventually identified as the rodent-borne hanta virus are unsatisfying, even irrelevant, to the Navajo, who believe something far more frightening is at work--an imbalance with far-reaching effects. And ultimately push himself comes to see the limits of what doctors can accomplish, and the liberating power of accepting other forces at work in the world. Full of wonderful imagery and scenes both moving and frightening--a hand-trembler trying to save a young life, a skinwalker changing form on a lonely road at twilight--this is a colorful and finally gripping novel of modern plagues and timeless evil.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The search for bigger and better bugs pushes this uneven Hot Zone clone into supernatural territory. Set in northern Arizona, the novel follows the efforts of two Native American medicospart-Choctaw physician Push Foster and Navajo Health and Human Services official Sonny Brokeshoulderto arrest the spread of "Navajo flu," a virulent respiratory inflection that targets reservation dwellers and kills in hours. Although their biological investigation throws the men together (giving them plenty of time to banter and learn Hopi and Navajo lore from their patients), by the end of the novel it hasn't contributed much to their understanding of the epidemic, which, according to Hopi Elder Clifford Lomaquaptewa, is caused by witchcraft, "the most heinous of all Navajo crimes." Querry (The Death of Bernadette Lefthand) can't seem to make up his mind whether the Navajo history, mythology and spiritual beliefs included in his novel are the real story or window dressing for the buddy tale of Foster and Brokeshoulder. Small wonder that, at the novel's end, his heroes and readers are equally baffled by the mysterious Navajo flu. (Apr.)
Library Journal
This second novel by the author of The Death of Bernadette Lefthand (LJ 7/93) is an odd mix: Tony Hillerman meets The Hot Zone meets Stephen King. A mysterious virus is killing young Navajos on their Arizona reservation. Dr. Push Foster, newly commissoned into the U.S. Public Health Service (and a mixed blood Choctaw like his creator) seeks a scientific solution to the deadly epidemic. Although the illness is finally identified as a hantavirus (the novel was inspired by actual events that occurred in Arizona and New Mexico in 1993), Clifford Lomaquaptewa, a Hopi medicine man, senses a more sinister cause: the theft of a sacred Hopi tablet has unleashed an evil force, a Navajo witch practicing bad medicine. While Querry's description of Navajo and Hopi cultures and mythologies is fascinating, his combining elements of medical and supernatural thrillers doesn't quite work. Also, his constant shifting of narrative points of view is confusing and exhausting. Still, fans of Hillerman's mysteries will enjoy this.Wilda Williams, "Library Journal"
Kirkus Reviews
Steadily entertaining second novel (after The Death of Bernadette Lefthand, not reviewed), about Western versus Navajo and Hopi medicine in the Southwest. The Navajo Reservation in northeastern Arizona near Four Corners is stricken by an unfamiliar, devastatingly swift disease that starts with a headache and kills in less than 48 hours. Can it be the result of archaeologists Sabine Vogel and Peter Campbell's unearthing of a virus in sacred Navajo land? Is it the revenge of ghosts for the theft by Silas Slowtalker of a sacred treasure at the nearby Hopi Reservation's Bear Clan, a tablet given in turn to Peter Campbell, who later took it to the Little Springs Trading Post to validate its rarity? Slowtalker's vile deed also unearthed corpse powder, which fills the very air with bad medicine. Investigating is young Dr. Push Foster, of the Indian Health Services Hospital in Hashk‚, Navajo Nation, himself a mixed-blood Choctaw, who teams up with old buddy Dr. Sonny Brokeshoulder to check into the histories of the dead, who are all Navajo. Push eventually gets an analysis from Atlanta's Centers for Disease Control suggesting that the illness appears to be caused by a hantavirus carried by rodents, mainly mice. When he confers with terrifically wise old Navajo Clifford Lomaquaptewa about Atlanta's report, Clifford says, "I don't know. That sounds pretty superstitious, to me blamin' it on mice and some germs you can't see." And, in fact, the CDC's research helps unravel only a part of the puzzle; also active, it would seem, is a skinwalker, a coyote who can shape-shift to human form and is a being of concentrated evil. After some tense showdowns, the villains get their comeuppances, but the linebetween Western and Indian medicine remains very vague. Great Indian lore in an ingenious medical gripper without the whole globe held in terror.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553377996
  • Publisher: Bantam Books
  • Publication date: 5/28/1999
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.65 (d)

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