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by William R. Dantz

Pub Date: June 18th, 1991
ISBN: 0-688-09244-6
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

 An idealistic young physician fights a diabolical medical conspiracy in the latest stethoscope-suspenser by...W.R. Philbrick (Walk on the Water, p. 217, etc.), writing as Dantz (the paperback Pulse, 1990), writing a lot like Robin Cook. Though not exactly like Cook--Dantz lacks his model's endearing goofiness--but still firing up strong suspense as he pits pretty Dr. Sara Copley, who's forsaken a glitter-track Boston career to sweat in Florida's public-health trenches, against Dr. Emile Vidoc, a genuinely creepy, Shakespeare-quoting villain who removes all his body hair and whose youthful recognition of himself as a sociopath led to his development of the ``Vidoc Method''--a technique, using rare neurotoxins, to create perfect warriors: zombies capable of being triggered into homicidal rages. Sara first runs into Vidoc's deviltry when Miami Missing Persons detective Lee Valdez calls her to look at a comatose body: Is it ``Surfer Dave,'' buddy of Sara's old boyfriend Kurt who disappeared around Miami a few months back? It is, and the picturesque trails that Sara and Valdez follow from Surfer Dave to Kurt--ranging from sunny beaches to Miami's Santeria underworld--all lead to Vidoc. Meanwhile, other comatose ``sleepers'' are unearthed, with one running bloodily amok in an O.R. after being revived by a venal doctor. Several ancillary villains emerge--a Cuban-exile kingpin, his sadistic sidekick, and a homicidal redneck giant--and commit gleeful mayhem in support of Vidoc until Sara and Valdez, now lovers, track the mad doctor to his Everglades lair, where he's demonstrating the Method to some wealthy Bolivian warmongers. Bullets and body parts fly in the all- stops-out finale, which winds up on a surprisingly cynical note. Formulaic and far-fetched, but piping hot, with zippy plot turns and imaginative use of the colorful Florida scenery.