Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Review: Pale Highway by Nicolas Conley

Pale Highway
by Nicolas Conley

25671152Gabriel Schist is spending his remaining years at Bright New Day, a nursing home. He once won the Nobel Prize for inventing a vaccine for AIDS. But now, he has Alzheimer’s, and his mind is slowly slipping away.

When one of the residents comes down with a horrific virus, Gabriel realizes that he is the only one who can find a cure. Encouraged by Victor, an odd stranger, he convinces the administrator to allow him to study the virus. Soon, reality begins to shift, and Gabriel’s hallucinations interfere with his work.

As the death count mounts, Gabriel is in a race against the clock and his own mind. Can he find a cure before his brain deteriorates past the point of no return?

My Take:
Gabriel Schist is a bitter old man. He's the world's most brilliant immunologist, a Nobel Prize laureate for creating a cure for AIDS, but now his brilliant mind is failing to the ravages of Alzheimer's. His life is an implosion of disappointment and loss. He's lost his wife to divorce and later to cancer, lost his best friend to old age, and lost many jobs due to his preoccupation with AIDS and perhaps his alcoholism.

As his mental acuity slips away, a new and deadly virus begins to take down the world's population. Only Gabriel has a chance of finding a cure for it, but it is a race against time to see if he can defeat the new disease, before his mind completely goes.

R - The ravages of this new virus destroy a victim from the inside out, liquifying organs and demolishing the body, leaving remains reminiscent of Alien.

R - The F-bomb occurs quite often. The main character's favorite epithet is GD, which he uses so frequently, other characters call him down for it.

Drug Content:
Cigarettes and Alcohol are used to excess throughout, and there is liberal use of anesthetizing combinations on the inmates of the nursing home Gabriel resides at. There is some mention of Marijuana usage and abuse.

Adult Content:
PG-13 - There are a couple points in the book where sex is mentioned but the book doesn't go into graphic detail. In one instance Gabriel thinks he's about to have relations with his wife and wakes up climbing in bed with another Alzheimer's patient.

Christian content:
The main character is an avowed atheist, militant, almost. One of the characters in a Catholic priest, and the book presents a god of sorts that is a Creator God. But no nod is given to the God of the bible, or Jesus.

Final analysis:
This book begins in geriatric hell, and there's a significant number of flashbacks to past times in the main character's life. These flashbacks almost seem like a dreamworld Gabriel retreats to when he is tired of dealing with his current life. The book gave me a better understanding of the frustrating and virtually hopeless outlook of Alzheimer's patients, and Gabriel was a well-developed character, fully lifelike, if raw, bitter, and generally unlikable through the first half of the book. I almost put the book down, until the slugs started talking. Then, I couldn't put the book down no matter what. I found it an eye-opener, a page-turner. Five Stars.

About the Author:
Nicholas ConleyNicholas Conley's passion for storytelling began at an early age, prompted by a love of science fiction novels, comic books and horror movies. When not busy writing, Nicholas spends his time reading, traveling to new places, and indulging in a lifelong coffee habit. In order to better establish himself on the planet Earth, Nicholas has currently made his home in New Hampshire. To learn more about him, take a stroll over to

1 comment:

  1. I got my first electronic cigarette kit at Vaporfi, and I must admit that they have the best kits.