MORTAL FEAR by Robin Cook
Kirkus Star


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That this is Cook's first novel with a multiword title doesn't mean that the master of schlock medical thrillers (Coma, Sphinx, Brain, Fever, Outbreak, etc.) has gussied up his formula. No, this is patent, factory-outlet Cook, another delightfully preposterous concoction about a noble M.D. tackling a diabolical conspiracy. When his middle-aged patients rapidly age and then die of diseases of the very old, Dr. Jason Howard is worried. His cares grow when Dr. Alvin Hayes, a world-class researcher and Jason's colleague at GHP--a small medical facility for wealthy Bostonians--himself dies, coughing his bloodstream all over the linen during dinner with Jason. Was Alvin talking true in claiming a major scientific breakthrough that's being used without his OK? In vintage Cook fashion, Jason trades stethoscope for deerstalker in order to find out, but--also in archetypal Cook-hero style--his courage outweighs his commonsense: it takes him an idiotically long time to see the obvious link between Alvin's discovery (something to do with growth hormones, as evidenced by the dog-sized mice in Alvin's lab) and the aging deaths. Jason's energetic but dull detecting sets him against GHP-boss and potential lover Shirley Montgomery; against a homicide dick irked by Jason's meddling; and against a pro killer who rapes/slays Alvin's lab assistant. At Jason's side stands only Alvin's ex-gal, Carol Donner, the only exotic dancer in Boston who really is a ""topless college girl"" (when not stripping she's working on a Ph.D. at Harvard). Allied in the name of science, doctor and dancer fly to Seattle, where they follow Alvin's trail, romance one another, and elude that killer via an exciting midnight raft ride clown a rapids. Back in Boston, in a slam-bang finish, Jason and Carol confront both the pro killer and the maniac behind the aging deaths (no surprise there) and begin to live happily ever after. A top-grade placebo thriller that for all its inanities offers a swift and entertaining read certain to please Cook's huge following.

Pub Date: Jan. 29th, 1987
Publisher: Putnam