It will come as no surprise to anyone who reads Jerri Sher’s debut novel, The Twig Painter, that the author has a background in the film industry as both a writer and producer, as the concepts she works with all cry out for a big Hollywood production. The novel centers on a big-pharma plot to cover up the discovery of a potential cure for AIDS in the blood of a vagabond artist known only as Twig. The villains who hatch this plot, moreover, are villains writ-large, impeccably-dressed executives who shout into telephones, arrange for murders, and make metaphorical pacts with the devil — all in the name of increased profit margins and all without ever getting their hands dirty. Standing against the forces of evil is the novel’s heroine, Penny Sears, a recently widowed mother whose newly rekindled romance with an old friend becomes complicated when the CIA enlists her to return to the field after a fifteen-year hiatus. As the novel progresses, moreover, Penny begins to understand how truly complicated — and intertwined — all of the forces in her life have become. Everything is connected, The Twig Painter suggests at every turn. Whether the glue that holds it all together is greed, love, or something in between remains up for grabs.