26 January, 2016

American pain by John Temple

In the past, whenever I heard that some celebrity or other was addicted to painkillers, I thought it was a bit naff- not a real addiction, surely: neat brown labelled bottles containing little pills prescribed by a doctor. All legal and unfortunate and a bit silly, but nothing deadly like heroin or meth amphetamines, surely? After reading American Pain, my views have changed completely.

The book starts with the vivid description of a car accident that immediately links the actions of so-called pain clinics with their victims in a way that evokes the emotions of the reader. There is nothing naff about being attended by strangers while you die from multiple fractures, leaving the police to discover the interior of your vehicle scattered with little blue pills.

I opened the book to have a quick peek while I was walking to my car, and I finally looked up and realised that I had read the whole first chapter while standing in the car park, completely absorbed. John Temple knows how to tell a good story and the statistics in the book are mind-boggling. Every chapter elicited a "wow!" from me: the money being made, the numbers of "patients" and pills dispensed and most poignantly, the number of painkiller-related deaths.


In addition to being a gifted storyteller, John Temple has the ability to describe complicated medical and legal situations in such an uncomplicated way that they are easy to understand and discuss with others. And this is a book that you will want to discuss and share with others.

Title: American pain
Author: John Temple

Reviewed by Monica F, Orewa Library

Monica F is happiest in gumboots and apron, attending to her animals, harvesting her crops and making stuff. Like all truly wholesome people, she has a dark side, and enjoys nothing better than well written true crime and forensic medicine.

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