Fourteen gripping stories on medical themes edited by horror-novelist Wilson (The Select, 1994, etc.), himself a practicing physician in New Jersey. Though the opening tale, Bill Pronzini's ``Angel of Mercy,'' about a postCivil War lady herbalist who travels about by wagon and dispenses fatal mixes for girls needing abortions, is quite weak, the collection overall has many strong tales and is not the mixed bag one might fear. Chet Williamson's ``Doctor Joe,'' about a general practitioner (now 90) who apparently hangs himself out of remorse for the life-insurance frauds he's been carrying out with a cousin in the insurance business, works neatly toward a surprise ending. Matthew Costello's ``Friendly Wager'' tells of the psychotic Dr. Newlove, who decides to imitate the plot of a grisly Roald Dahl story while on a cruise and sets about killing people with undetectable poisons. The tightest, toughest piece of storytelling here is Tina L. Jens's ``The Cuban Solution,'' about a female American doctor sent to Guantanamo Bay Naval Station to help fight an epidemic among Cuban refugees being detained at the base and finds herself in the middle of an episode of biological warfare. Wilson's own ``Offshore'' is a knockout suspense tale whose background deserves novelization: The federal government has taken over the US hospitals, and the rich are now going to hospital ships beyond the hundred-mile limit off the Florida Keys--floating wards with smuggled medical supplies the government has declared illegal. The late Karl Edward Wagner's ``Final Cut'' tells of an alcoholic who pre-enacts his own death, while Ridley Pearson's ``All Over But the Dying'' deals with the AIDS epidemic in Africa; it's the most serious story of the 14, though it descends into melodrama. Top genre tales.