A suspense debut--from medical writer Ferguson and Graedon (coauthor of The People's Pharmacy)--in which spectacular cerebrovascular accidents fell Californians like ninepins. The deaths appear to be an unpleasant side effect of a new herpes medicine. Ultradedicated emergency-room physician and media star Gabe Austin is about to hang up his bloody scrubs and enjoy a long deferred date with old flame Kate, herself an ultradedicated physician and world-class marathoner, when an ambulance delivers a young woman with a killer headache and blood pressure through the roof. Ultradedication, alas, is not enough to save the young woman's life, and the hitherto healthy (save for the odd bulimic episode) girl succumbs in the middle of a CAT scan. A baffled Dr. Austin takes time off from his emergency room, his TV spots, and his column and flies off to a medical convention in Reno with Kate, who now works as chief wellness manager for a huge drug firm. After extending professional courtesies with Kate in her luxurious suite, Gabe gets some computer information about other otherwise healthy Californians who have, like his late friend, suddenly fallen victim to strokes. The only thing the victims had in common was a dose of a new herpes medicine made by, uh-oh, Kate's firm--which will go to any length to protect its investment in the drug. Among the firm's weapons are a lawyer who most unpleasantly resembles the late Roy Cohn and his beefy driver. Valiant docs. Vile corporations. Bad medicine.