Intelligently crafted thriller that succeeds at making the most monotonous industry in America fascinating and believably menacing. This third suspense tale from Lynch steps away from the medical focus of his previous work (Omega, 1997; Carriers, 1995) to explore the tedious affairs of a distinguished Providence, Rhode Island, insurance company. The potential for boredom is great, especially since Lynch’s heroine, Alexandra Tynan, is a number-cruncher specializing in actuarial studies. But, luckily, Lynch has a reporter’s eye for telling detail. The story opens on a cozy Christmas when the rest of the world lolls in holiday sentiment but insurance executive Michael Eliot frets about the imminent car accidents and slip-and-fall injuries due to increased snowfall. When he’s informed that a routine analysis of his genetic makeup indicates the likelihood of a deadly disease, Huntington’s Chorea, Eliot decides to escape his dull job. He converts his assets to cash, only to die a week later in an apparently accidental electrocution. Alex Tynan, an appropriately young, brilliant analyst, was friendly with Eliot’s lover, Liz Foster. Eager to console her shattered friend, Alex notices an attachÇ case left by Eliot in Liz’s care. Liz opens the case to find money and securities, winning the attention of the chief claims investigator and Donald Grant, the first of several bad guys. Alex smells a rat when her friends and fellow executives begin to disappear or suffer fatal accidents at a rate suspiciously above average. Could all this have anything to do with a genetic-screening lab whose margin of error is much too wide, or are lies and statistics covering up an even darker scam? A well-balanced examination of the hypocrisy, bad science, and old-fashioned greed that drive—and cripple—the American insurance industry.