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Seems everybody else has been on lost-codex-shakes-ancient-religion turf. Why not Cook (Foreign Body, 2008, etc.)?

Jack Stapleton has had better years. Once a promising eye doctor, he’s disappeared into the morgue, having retrained as a forensic pathologist and, in the bargain, lost his young family to disaster. In his 50s and remarried, he has a young boy with “high-risk neuroblastoma, the worst kind.” (We learn all this about Jack in just a few paragraphs, for Cook knows how to deliver a brief on a character that would fit on the front page of a medical chart.) Conventional medicine isn’t doing the trick, and Stapleton fears the worst. While conducting an autopsy on a young woman whose life has been terminated by a bad chiropractic session—her vertebral arteries looking “like two small headless red snakes who’d swallowed something blue”—he delves into a careful exploration of alternative medicine, a journey that takes him from the local Barnes & Noble into more challenging venues. Enter college buddy Shawn Daughtry, who is on his fifth wife and having a fine time of it as an Indiana Jones–ish biblical archaeologist. Now, if you’re going to have an alternative cure for an illness of epic proportions, it might as well be divine, and one of Shawn’s discoveries may just fill the bill. So, too, might one of its complications, which is the need to get down into the bowels of Saint Peter’s Basilica and poke around among the bones—a chore that, naturally enough, has all sorts of theological implications. Conveniently, Stapleton has another pal who is now the archbishop of New York, on whom those implications are not lost. All of this puts us squarely into Dan Brown territory, save that, unlike Brown, Cook can write up a storm and spin a taut tale, every chapter of which ends on a cliffhanger all the way up to an unforeseen conclusion. In the hands of a master, in other words, such confections have real possibilities—and Cook more than delivers.

Just the book for the beach bag—or a transatlantic flight to Rome or Jerusalem.

Pub Date: Aug. 11th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-399-15570-3
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2009


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