New York Times-bestselling author Robin Cook takes on the cutting-edge world of gene-modification in this pulse-pounding new medical thriller.
When an unidentified, seemingly healthy young woman collapses suddenly on the New York City subway and dies upon reaching the hospital, her case is an eerie reminder for veteran medical examiner Jack Stapleton of the 1918 flu pandemic. Fearful of a repeat on the one-hundredth anniversary of the nightmarish contagion, Jack autopsies the woman within hours of her demise and discovers some striking anomalies: first, that she has had a heart transplant, and second, that, against all odds, her DNA matches that of the transplanted heart.
Although the facts don’t add up to influenza, Jack must race against the clock to identify the woman and determine what kind of virus could wreak such havoc–a task made more urgent when two other victims succumb to a similar rapid death. But nothing makes sense until his investigation leads him into the fascinating realm of CRISPR/CAS9, a gene-editing biotechnology that’s captured the imagination of the medical community. . . and the attention of its most unethical members. Drawn into the dark underbelly of the organ transplant market, Jack will come face-to-face with a megalomaniacal businessman willing to risk human lives in order to conquer a lucrative new frontier in medicine–and if Jack’s not careful, the next life lost might be his own.
From The Darker Studio:
A beautiful, healthy young woman on a subway ride in New York City is found dead and the mystery of how she died is just the beginning of a thrilling ride of a medical mystery you won’t be able to put down.
Referred to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner as the host of a potentially contagious pathogen, the chief himself, Dr. Jack Stapleton, decides to take the case because it reminds him of the 1918 flu pandemic. During the autopsy with his team, all in protective garb, they encounter some very unusual findings. One of the top examiners around, Stapleton is arrogant, sarcastic, and when a medical challenge presents itself, he won’t stop until he’s conquered it. The diversion is welcome as he has a lot of personal issues hounding him and he pushes at everyone he needs in the case to get him results. Putting everything else on the backburner, perhaps not wisely, he becomes obsessed with the mystery and allows it to drag him into some of the darkest places he’s ever encountered.
Robin Cook is a master storyteller when it comes to medical thrillers and Pandemic is one of his best tales. The author’s obvious expertise shines through in this tale of a molecule that can be genetically altered to find and modify genes. The concept is a dangerous one because when it comes to pathogens and viruses, anything that can accelerate the replication of such poses a threat to populations around the world.
Pandemic is an engaging read as the rich detail and the well-crafted mystery fascinates the reader as much as it does Stapleton. We not only follow Stapleton as he obsessively works to unravel the mystery, but we’re given in-depth knowledge on the processes used to determine cause and effect in such a case. With the clock ticking, we watch Stapleton race to discover the truth in an effort to head off a potential global crisis.
With the medical mystery aside, we also watch Stapleton try to navigate a difficult interpersonal relationship with family and colleagues. We navigate the politics of a medical examiner’s office and watch the characters deal with several ethical dilemmas as well. The threat of the antagonist in the story is fascinating and his efforts to bring about a new frontier in medicine, at any cost, add a level of madness to the overall story that helps make it a satisfying read.
While fans of medical thrillers will certainly enjoy this tale, fans of well-written mystery and thrillers will enjoy it just as much. Anyone who reads this cautionary tale, who’s not a medical expert, will come away with much to think about. Highly recommended. – Jamie
More Praise for Robin Cook
“Four decades after rocketing up the bestseller lists with his debut, Coma, Cook shows he hasn’t lost a microgram of his ability to scare the hospital gown off a prospective patient…Where Cook shines is in illuminating that combination of impersonal professionalism and potential terror haunting every hospital corridor. A return to form for the master of medical malevolence.”—Kirkus Reviews (Charlatans)
“Cook has been cranking out best-selling medical thrillers since the mid-1970s, and he long ago worked out a formula that works for his fans. [CHARLATANS] is no exception, proving once again that there is comfort and entertainment to be found in the familiar.” —Booklist (Charlatans)
“[A] terrifying excursion into the world of medicine, money, manipulation and one of the most pressing ethical and public policy issues of our time.”—Huffington Post (Host)