Lethal Measures

Leonard S. Goldberg, Author
Leonard S. Goldberg, Author Dutton Books $24.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-525-94528-4
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Intrepid heroine Joanna Blalock, the beautiful and brilliant medical investigator from Los Angeles, returns for her sixth outing in this fast-moving but oddly flavorless medical thriller. This time she confronts a group of terrorist bombers plotting to kill the president of the U.S., but she has no inkling of the connection when she is called upon, as a forensic pathologist, to investigate the carnage and debris left after a catastrophic explosion kills several dozen people in a quiet neighborhood. Assigned to this grim task, Blalock quickly makes several intriguing discoveries, chiefly among them is that several of the victims were in the terminal stages of fatal diseases, and some of them wore artificial limbs. Equally strange, the evidence indicates they were actually making or holding the bombs at the time of explosion, leading Blalock and her on-and-off lover, homicide detective Jake Sinclair, to speculate that the victims may have been terrorists who killed themselves, so there's nothing further to worry about. That theory, however, is demolished when the terrorists strike again. They kill the only witness to the explosion, then bomb Blalock's lab, destroying almost all remaining evidence, then they kidnap her and set their murderous sights on the president. Though Goldberg (Deadly Exposure, etc.) keeps a lively pace, elements of this thriller lack the riveting suspense of his earlier outings. As the plot grinds to a predictable close, his cast of characters does even less to engage the imagination. The terrorists, members of a group called the Ten Righteous, are stock villains whose personalities are as banal as their motivation for killing the president. The supporting cast is also disappointing, but Goldberg, a physician himself, enlivens the book with his formidable knowledge of forensic investigation, creating a graphic but believable foundation for his tale. (Feb.)
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