Eight Lives

Susan Hurley

Eight Lives
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Eight Lives

Susan Hurley

Winner of the Davitt Award for Debut Titles 2020

Former refugee David Tran becomes the Golden Boy of Australian medical research and invents a drug that could transform immunology. Eight volunteers are recruited for the first human trial, a crucial step on the path to global fame for David and windfall gains for his investors. But when David dies in baffling circumstances, motives are put under the microscope.

With its origins in a real-life drug trial that ended in tragedy, Eight Lives is told from the perspectives of David’s friends, family and business associates, who all played a role in his downfall.

A smart, sophisticated thriller that explores power, class and prejudice, Eight Lives will keep you engrossed until the last page.      


When a young Vietnamese-Australian doctor makes a medical breakthrough, inventing a drug that could essentially help broken immune systems fix themselves, everything seems as golden as the name bestowed upon him: David Tran, Golden Boy. But seven months after David appears on television, celebrating the financial backing that will lead to testing, trials, and a hopeful future, he is dead. How and why he died are the questions everyone is asking. And so the story of how he ended up dead on a hospital room floor is told by those who know the most: David’s sister, Ly, struggling with everyone’s secrets; his childhood best friend, Miles, whose family supported David’s for years; David’s frosty, sanctimonious and occasionally self-aware girlfriend, Abigail; his research assistant, Rosa, overwhelmed with everyone’s expectations, including her own; and Foxy, the fixit man who needs to find out to make sure that David’s death doesn’t affect any of his clients in any negative way.

This back-and-forth in time and voice is expertly written, with the slow release of everyone’s knowledge and discoveries painting a picture of the brilliant David that is much more complex than any ‘Golden Boy’ persona. Despite their best efforts, none of the storytellers are able to grasp the full picture, creating an intimate reading style that makes the book an addictive experience. Hurley’s expertise in the medical field shows, turning monoclonals and mAbs into easily comprehended ideas, and not hiding unknowable secrets within medical terms your Friendly Neighbourhood Bookseller could never parse. This simmering blockbuster will keep you guessing, pull the rug out from under you, make you gasp – and it won’t let up until the very end.

Fiona Hardy is our monthly crime fiction columnist, and also blogs about children’s books at Fiona The Hardy.

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