Vial Murders

Marsha Landreth, Author
Marsha Landreth, Author Walker & Company $19.95 (250p) ISBN 978-0-8027-3199-9
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A timely premise-the reemergence of smallpox-is ill-served by the abrasive sleuthing of Sheridan, Wyo., medical examiner Samantha Turner in her third appearance, following A Clinic for Murder. When a teenage boy dies after attending a conference with students from all over the world, Sam notes textbooks signs of smallpox, a disease wiped out in 1977, save for a few locked-up racks of frozen lab vials. The boy's body disappears, as does a second youngster, while Sam jousts with disbelieving representatives from the Center for Disease Control, the local police chief, who regularly (and legally) tows her car, and a paralyzing bout of her own with a deadly virus. In a less than creditable subplot, her husband Derek, a CIA operative who is the son of her previous husband, endangers Sam's ill father by bringing him to the ominous genetics research lab where her previous case was set. Landreth raises chilling elements of medical ethics here, but suspense and excitement don't go the distance as an unlikely tag team of townsfolk steps in to take care of the bad guys. (Nov.)
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