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Pacific Book Review

Pacific Book Review

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Unconditional Loss

Title : Unconditional Loss

Author : Orrin Lippoff & Mladen Solar
Publisher : Unconditional Loss
ISBN : 0615384048
Pages : 468, Paperback
Genre : Fiction/Suspense
Reviewed by : Gary Sorkin
Date Review Completed : July 22, 2011

Unconditional Loss, a novel co-authored by doctors Orrin Lippoff & Mladen Solar, grip the reader and pull them into a fast moving, expertly written story like the harness of a dog team of Huskies pulling a sled across the Alaskan frontier. In fact, that's exactly how the novel begins.

As a pandemic spreads throughout the world grotesquely killing dogs by hemorrhaging the tissue in their lungs, causing a bloody, painful death unabated by any known treatment, researcher Dr. Preston McBride is committed to seek a vaccination for this horrific virus. Being personally effected by the loss of his mother's dog; seeing firsthand the emotional grieving and suffering dog owners have when their pets die, McBride becomes convinced he needs to seek a cure. As a researcher who put his career on the shelf when his work was stolen by a colleague, McBride is forced to once again team up with Dr. Willis, the very person whose conflict has altered McBride's destiny. Willis is now a rich and powerful vice president of a drug company. In order to use Willis' state-of-the-art laboratory facility, McBride becomes once again subordinated to the "Alpha attitude" of Willis' control, scrutiny and taking credit for McBride's work.

Orrin Lippoff & Mladen Solar engulfs the reader into an unforgettable story of the possible extinction of the entire canine population. They articulate, all too well at times, the surrealistic sorrow of pet owners having to deal with the grief of losing their dog; sometimes even to the point of committing suicide as their only option to deal with their loss. You don't have to be a dog lover to appreciate these sentiments; however to those of us which are, this book is a harsh and raw emotional drain when empathizing with the plight of the characters. It's like Marley & Me thousands of times over. It brought to mind the loss I suffered when my dog died, which is no doubt one of its intended objectives. 46 million families in America own at least one dog, as the dog population is estimated to be 78 million. In the book, this population drops to less than 5 million living dogs – and continues its decline until a vaccination is found.

Unconditional Loss is an original and expertly written book, educating while entertaining. Written for the suspense, thriller, disaster novel lover, this book appeals to a wide variety of age brackets from young adult to those many "dog years" older. The 474 pages read rather quickly, however the only criticism is it could be boiled down a bit; certain side stories added little at times to the plot. Be that as it may, the book created a mental storyboard that played in my mind like a blockbuster disaster movie. It would be an excellent book for screenplay adaptation, as Hollywood would surely swoop up its share of the $40 billion annual pet industry. As a token of gratitude to all those who buy this book, a sizeable portion of the authors' profit is being donated to the ASPCA. Oh, and for all of you cat lovers, don't worry, the virus only killed dogs ~ but you never know what a sequel might bring!

Drs. Lippoff and Solar channel Michael Crichton with their debut medical thriller, a cautionary tale that spins a terrifying what-if scenario from the recent international concerns about the next supervirus.

What happens when pharmaceutical profits become more important than potential risk? Lippoff and Solar ask that question, envisioning the greatest health crisis since the Black Death. After being pushed out of his research position at a company called Novilis, Dr. Preston McBride heads back to hands-on work in a clinic, just as the flu vaccine he was hesitantly working on is being issued to the public. While Americans are heaving a sigh of relief that the dangerous Rohn Flu has been cured, a much-worse aftershock appears when all the dogs on Earth start dying. One by one, beloved pets, drug-sniffing canines and racing dogs all start dying in graphic, disturbing ways—bleeding from the inside-out as if they have Ebola. Preston puts the pieces together, quickly determining that the timing of the Rohn vaccine and the canine plague must be related, and races to find a cure before all of humanity disintegrates. While dog death may not seem like a harbinger of the apocalypse, the authors make the case that a disease that wipes out man's best friend would devastate the human race in profound ways—from the rash of suicides caused by people losing their only companions to all-out riots spawned by waves of unending grief. Milking their terrifying concept, Lippoff and Solar make the horrifying genuine, most notably through a series of subplots and minichapters about the various impacts of the dog plague. The biggest misstep is that their novel runs close to 500 pages, and would have been greatly improved by a tighter pace. Potential tension is lost through a bit too much repetition as the plague worsens, but this thriller will still resonate for dog lovers and others.

The authors find emotional gravity in a fathomable medical nightmare, turning their expertise into a clever debut novel.


Kirkus Indie, Kirkus Media LLC, 6411 Burleson Rd., Austin, TX 78744 indie@kirkusreviews.com


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'25 percent of authors' net profits from the sale of this book will be donated to the New York ASPCA, an organization dedicated to the well-being of dogs and other animals.

Copyright © 2011 Unconditional Loss. All Rights Reserved.