Authors: Robin Cook
“Like a runaway locomotive—a manically entertaining thriller. Robin Cook knows how to make the pages fly.”
At a prestigious Florida medical center, brain cancer patients are treated with a one-hundred-percent success rate. Sean Murphy, a young medical student, finds it hard to believe. Is it a miracle cure? Or the biggest con job in the history of medicine?
“Straight out of today’s headlines.”
A Dual Main Selection of the Literary Guild
DR. ROBIN COOK, a graduate of Columbia Medical School, finished his postgraduate medical training at Harvard. He is the author of
Seizure, Shock, Abduction, Vector, Toxin, Chromosome 6, Contagion
, and numerous other bestselling novels.
Praise for the other novels of
Cook’s most daring novel to date—a shocking discovery changes everything we know about life, in all its forms….
“LEAVE IT TO DOCTOR-TURNED-NOVELIST ROBIN COOK TO SCARE US ALL TO DEATH.”
Los Angeles Times
A disgruntled Russian émigré possesses the knowledge to unleash into the streets of New York City the ultimate terror: a modern bioweapon
“THERE’S A FRIGHTENING LOGIC IN THE IDEA THAT YOUR NEXT BREATH MIGHT KILL YOU.”
The widespread danger of bacterial contamination from America’s meat supply drives Robin Cook’s startling and eye-opening shocker
“A CAUTIONARY TALE…A COVER-UP OF MAJOR PROPORTIONS…THE PROGNOSIS FOR
In his most prophetic thriller, Robin Cook challenges the medical ethics of genetic manipulation and cloning
“SHOCKING AND THOUGHT-PROVOKING…COOK’S BEST TO DATE.”
—The Associated Press
A sudden outbreak defies diagnosis—because the causes are unlike anything humankind has ever seen
“DR. ROBIN COOK CERTAINLY KNOWS HOW TO TELL A STORY.”
The Detroit News
A shattering scenario based on medical fact—a battle for survival waged in the hot zone of a deadly new virus
The Denver Post
His most shocking thriller—a timely and terrifying glimpse into the dangers of antidepressant drugs
“STERN AND BRACING…[A] SUSPENSEFUL THRILLER.”
San Francisco Chronicle
One of the most controversial books Robin Cook has ever written—a terrifying look at the darker implications of managed health care in America
“A RIVETING PLOT, FILLED WITH ACTION.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune
How far will people go to obtain donors for eye operations? Murder is beyond comprehension. But seeing is believing
“GRABS THE READER…MAINTAINS SUSPENSE WITH SURPRISING STORY TWISTS.”
Dr. Cook explores the frightening possibilities of experimental fertilization—the passion to create life, and the power to destroy it
“CONSTANT SUSPENSE…BELIEVABLE AND CHILLING.”
The explosive story of a doctor accused of malpractice—a fugitive on the run who pierces the heart of a shocking medical conspiracy
“A REAL GRABBER.”
Los Angeles Times
On the forefront of genetic research, a brilliant doctor tries to create the son of his dreams—and invents a living nightmare
“HOLDS YOU PAGE AFTER PAGE.”
A major scientific breakthrough becomes the ultimate experiment in terror when middle-aged patients begin to die—of old age
“COOK’S BEST BOOK SINCE
Murder and mystery reach epidemic proportions when a devastating plague sweeps the country
“HIS MOST HARROWING MEDICAL HORROR STORY.”
The New York Times
Only Robin Cook could portray with such terrifying brilliance what happens when the one place dedicated to saving lives starts taking them
“NERVE-WRACKING HOSPITAL HORRORS.”
A family searches for the truth from a corporation and a medical establishment all too willing to ignore the fate of their little girl
The New York Times Book Review
BERKLEY BOOKS, NEW YORK
If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
A Berkley Book / published by arrangement with the author
G. P. Putnam’s Sons hardcover edition / January 1993 Berkley mass-market edition / February 1994
All rights reserved.
Copyright © 1993 by Robin Cook.
Photograph of the author © 1992 by John Earle.
This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
For information address:
The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
Berkley Books are published by
The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
BERKLEY and the “B” design are trademarks belonging to Penguin Putnam Inc.
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
20 19 18 17 16 15
To Jean with love and appreciation
would like to thank Matthew Bankowski, Ph.D., for his patience and generosity in tolerating my questions about his arena of expertise, and for his willingness to read and comment upon the original manuscript of
I would also like to thank Phyllis Grann, my friend and editor, for her valuable input. I would also like to apologize for any deleterious effects the lateness of the manuscript of
may have had on her longevity.
Finally I would like to thank the basic science departments of the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University for providing me with the background that makes it possible for me to understand and appreciate the fast-paced developments in molecular biology.
Science without conscience is but the ruin of the soul.
Monday, 7:05 A.M.
elen Cabot gradually awoke as dawn emerged from the winter darkness blanketing Boston, Massachusetts. Fingers of pale, anemic light pierced the darkness of the third-floor bedroom in her parents’ Louisburg Square home. At first she didn’t open her eyes, luxuriating under the down comforter of her canopied bed. Totally content, she was mercifully unaware of the terrible molecular events occurring deep inside her brain.
The holiday season had not been one of Helen’s most enjoyable. In order to avoid missing any classes at Princeton where she was enrolled as a junior, she’d scheduled an elective D&C between Christmas and New Year’s. The doctors had promised that removing the abnormally heavy endometrial tissue lining the uterus would eliminate the violently painful cramps that left her incapacitated each time she got her period. They’d also promised it would be routine. But it hadn’t been.
Turning her head, Helen gazed at the soft morning light diffusing through the lace curtains. She had no sensation of impending doom. In fact, she felt better than she had in days. Although the operation had gone smoothly with only mild post-operative discomfort, the third day after surgery she had developed an unbearable headache, followed by fever, dizziness, and most disturbing of all, slurred speech. Thankfully, the symptoms had cleared as quickly as they had appeared, but her parents still insisted she keep her scheduled appointment
with the neurologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
Drifting back to sleep Helen heard the barely perceptible click of her father’s computer keyboard. His study was next to Helen’s bedroom. Opening her eyes just long enough to see the clock, she realized it was just past seven. It was amazing how hard her father worked. As the founder and chairman of the board of one of the most powerful software companies in the world, he could afford to rest on his laurels. But he didn’t. He was driven, and the family had become astoundingly wealthy and influential as a result.
Unfortunately the security that Helen enjoyed from her family circumstances did not take into account that nature does not respect temporal wealth and power. Nature works according to its own agenda. The events occurring in Helen’s brain, unknown to her, were being dictated by the DNA molecules that comprised her genes. And on that day in early January, four genes in several of her brain’s neurons were gearing up to produce certain encoded proteins. These neurons had not divided since Helen was an infant, which was normal. Yet now because of these four genes and their resultant proteins, the neurons would be forced to divide again, and to keep on dividing. A particularly malignant cancer was about to shatter Helen’s life. At age twenty-one, Helen Cabot was potentially “terminal,” and she had no idea.
January 4, 10:45 A.M.
Accompanied by a slight whirring noise, Howard Pace was slid out of the maw of the new MRI machine at the University Hospital in St. Louis. He’d never been more terrified in his life. He’d always been vaguely anxious about hospitals and doctors, but now that he was ill, his fears were full-fledged and overwhelming.
At age forty-seven Howard had been in perfect health until that fateful day in mid-October when he’d charged the net in
the semifinals of the Belvedere Country Club’s annual tennis tournament. There’d been a slight popping noise, and he’d sprawled ignominiously as the unreturned ball sailed over his head. Howard’s anterior cruciate ligament had snapped inside his right knee.
That had been the beginning of it. Fixing the knee had been easy. Despite some mild problems his doctors ascribed to the aftereffects of general anesthesia, Howard had returned to work in just a few days. It had been important for him to get back quickly; running one of the nation’s largest airplane manufacturing firms was not easy in an era of sharply curtailed defense budgets.