Acceptable Risk

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This novel by Robin Cook, published in 1994, takes place in Salem. More specifically, many of the settings are in north Salem such as Greenlawn Cemetery and Cabot Farm at the end of Orne Street.

A movie by the same name was made in 2001.

The premise of the book is built around an interesting concept. Some believe that the Salem witch trials in 1692 were brought about by a fungus commonly found at that time on rye grain. This fungus, called ergot, when ingested in bread, produced hallucinations and delusions which could be interpreted as "possession". Cook's plot goes like this: The main character, Kim Stewart, a 27 year old nurse from an affluent and blue blooded Massachusetts family has a skeleton in her closet. One of her ancestors, Elizabeth was convicted of witchcraft and hanged. Investigating her past leads to the discovery of the fungus. Her boyfriend, a brilliant research scientist metabolizes this fungus into a new, designer mood altering super Prozac type drug. His colleagues, anticipating a financial windfall, work diligently to test the drug to get FDA approval. They speed up the process by ingesting and testing the drug themselves, with somewhat predictable consequences.

The book was made into a movie by Artisan Home Entertainment in 2001. Named Robin Cook's Acceptable Risk, it stars Chad Lowe and Kelly Rutherford. According to Internet Movie Database: An ambitious medical researcher discovers a mold that he believes could be the foundation of a miracle cure for degenerative diseases.

Director: William A. Graham

See Also