First Among Peers
Book # 3 in The Susquehanna Trilogy
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More About This Title First Among Peers


First Among Peers is a novel about medical research, betrayal, and a scandal of alleged scientific fraud. Ultimately, it is a tale of love and renewal.

Nicole Légende and Drew Tower, husband and wife, are physicians. Nicole specializes in the prevention of childhood diseases, while Drew does research in viral illnesses, such as Ebola and HIV/AIDS. He has developed an antibody that may prove to be effective against these incurable viruses.
Two strong women are central to the novel: Nicole and their daughter, Danielle. Beautiful and temperamental, Danielle denies herself love and happiness out of family loyalty. Nicole, who encounters problems of her own in her work—the demands of a job that conflicts with her role as the mother of three children—is increasingly concerned about Drew's travels to remote areas of the world, where he is exposed to outbreaks of exotic diseases. Her worst fears materialize when Drew, working in the African bush, is infected with a deadly virus. With his last conscious words, he asks to be treated with his experimental therapy, which has only been tested in laboratory animals. Saving her husband becomes Nicole's sole mission. With his life hanging in the balance, she appeals to a man she despises, the colleague who almost destroyed Drew's career.
A disgruntled woman postdoctoral fellow, encouraged by Drew's chief antagonist, had accused a young scientist in Drew's laboratory of falsifying data. Scientific fraud is a devastating charge. As Drew was swept up in the scandal, it became a major impediment to his career. There was an official investigation by a select panel of his peers, as well as contentious public hearings in front of a Congressional committee in Washington, D.C. The resulting media coverage had taken its toll on Drew's family: his sons were tormented by schoolmates; his daughter's love affair came to an end. Most tragic of all, the young scientist falsely accused of fabricating the results of an experiment had been found dead.
At the novel's end, in an ironic twist of fate, there is a surprising outcome to this compelling story.


Harriet Segal is the author of five novels. Her works have been published in a number of foreign languages and have been selections of major book clubs, including the Book-of-the-Month Club. During the 1960s, Ms. Segal lived in India where she was a writer for the U. S. Information Agency. This experience and her travels throughout the developing world have influenced her writing and linger as vivid impressions in her novels. Segal has been described as a storyteller with a strong narrative voice and a talent for painting evocative settings and creating memorable characters. The author was married for forty-eight years to the late Dr. Sheldon J. Segal, an eminent scientist in the field of population and human reproduction, who was a laureate of the United Nations Population Award. A grandmother of seven, she has recently moved from New York to the Boston suburbs and spends her summers on Cape Cod. Her new novel, First Among Peers, is about the world of medical research and scientific fraud.


Some themes that are treated in this work of fiction: divided loyalties; betrayal; the role that politics and competition play in the field of scientific research; the redeeming power of love. And the frightening truth that medical science has failed to conquer a number of known and unknown viruses with the potential to wipe out entire populations.