Picks and Pans Review: Mortal Fear

updated 01/11/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/11/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Robin Cook

Cook remains a hypochondriac's nightmare come true—a doctor who sees a conspiracy buried in every blood test. This time his hero, Dr. Jason Hunter, suspects an ominous new disease is running amok after patients he has pronounced healthy begin returning to his attention feet first. But when the Boston Health Care Clinic's star researcher, Dr. Alvin Hayes, desperately confides that his life is in danger, then drops dead at the dinner table, Hunter suspects foul play. This thriller builds with stress-testing speed as Hunter's race to uncover Hayes's genetic breakthrough takes him from the raunchy confines of Boston's Combat Zone to the pristine expanses of Washington state. In the end it's difficult to reconcile the novel's body count with the killers' motives. And as usual Cook strains credibility; among other things, he makes a key character a topless dancer-Harvard Ph.D. candidate. By the time the book crashes to its abrupt and fairly foolish halt, however, the fun's been had. This is Cook's best book since his first novel, Coma. (Putnam, $17.95)

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