The Select by F. Paul Wilson (first published in great Britain in 1993 under the title The Foundation)
The Ingraham is perhaps the best medical school in the country. It is privately funded by the Kleederman Foundation which, in turn, is sponsored by Kleederman Pharmaceuticals, the most successsful and innovative drug companies in the world. The Ingraham accepts only fifty students a year. All costs are borne by the school -- tuition, room, board, equipment, labs, and so on -- it's a totally free ride for those lucky enough to be selected. Every graduate from The Ingraham goes on to be a leader in their field. It stands to reason that the school is very picky about whom it selects.
Among the current year's applicants are poor farm girl Quinn Cleary, Quinn's childhood friend the rich Matt Crawford, and Matt's good friend from Dartmouth, Tim Brown. Tim has a reputation as a wild man. Gifted with an eidectic memory, Tim breezed his way through Dartmouth and decided to apply to the Ingraham both on a lark and to spite his parents' desire to go into law or business. The three are among a group that is visiting the school for a pre-admission interview and tour weekend.
There are some strange things about the school. They insist that all applicants during the weekend stay in the school's dormitories. Everybody is closely watched by a suspicious (and ultimately sadistic) campus security organization. Top-secret research and experiments are taking place. Dormitory rooms and telephones are bugged and constantly monitored. And, unfortunately for Quinn, the Board is reluctant to admit all but a few female candidates.
Just before her interview, Quinn comes across a ward with eight patients totally wrapped up in bandages and completely unresponsive. The curtain to the ward is quickly closed and Quinn is told the patients are severe burn victims being treated with an experiment procedure
Eventually both Matt and Tim are selected for admission and Quinn is notified that she is number 11 on the wait list. Since historically no one has ever refused an acceptance, Quinn's chances of attending The Ingraham are nil. This doesn't sit well with Matt, who can afford to go to any medical school in the country. Matt knows full well that Quinn is smarter, more talented, and tests better than most of the applicants who were accepted. Quinn is defeated and is considering jouining the Navy to receive her medical training, when Tim comes up with an idea so crazy it might just work. It does and Quinn finds herself a student at The Ingraham while Matt moves on to study at Yale.
After a while, Quinn and Tim notice that the school's diverse group of students are being to veer toward the same philosophy doing more for some patients while letting others fall by the wayside. It urns out that the school is using subliminal devices planted in the headboards of every dormitory bed to influence the students, driving them all to a oral shift in line with that of the school's. Only Tim and Quinn seem unaffected.
The supposed burn victims in Ward C swarthed in bandages and unable to move are victims of kidnapping, torture, and illegal experimentation, supposedly for the greater good. In reality it is for the greater profit of Kleederman Pharmiceuticals.
Soon, Quinn and Tim are both fearful for their lives. then Tim goes missing...
The Select is a roller coaster of a medical thriller from one of the best thriller writers in the business. Sometimes at odds with the author's well-known libertarian views, The Select is not as powerful as Wilson's Repairman Jack or Adversary sequences of novels, but it still grabs you by the throat and never lets go.