Flinty, incorruptible San Francisco surgeon Carroll Monks returns in this entertaining but shallow sequel to McMahon's Twice Dying. This time, the gruff Mercy Hospital doctor is thrust into the midst of high-powered corporate intrigue after he saves the life of a scruffy-looking junkie who's overdosed on Demerol. Monk's daughter, Stephanie, an impressionable med school student, recognizes the drug abuser as Lex Rittenour, a reclusive and egomaniacal software designer who's the power behind the throne at Aesir, a major bio-tech company. Shortly after Rittenour is escorted out of the hospital's ER by shady Aesir attorney Ron Tygard, Mercy's blood lab is attacked by saboteurs posing as local firemen. Rittenour's blood samples are among those destroyed, and the cagey Monks and Stephanie quickly deduce that Aesir is trying to destroy any evidence that its genius-in-residence was ever at the hospital. The company can't afford any negative publicity: it's planning a major IPO and putting the finishing touches on REGIS, a revolutionary piece of software that can quickly and comprehensively scan any individual's entire genetic makeup. When Monks sets out to confront Aesir's head honchos, he finds himself contending with the company's ruthless CEO, Ken Bouldin; the seductive Dr. Martine Rostanov; and a secret, highly unethical research project conducted on illegal Korean immigrants. McMahon's sophomore effort shows little depth or character development, and his exploration of the ethical dark side of genetic research can be pat. Still, the novel is plenty of fun, with swift pacing, some tense scenes and a likably crusty protagonist. Monks has a real knack for putting people in their place, as when he tells the obnoxious Tygard, "You don't have to flaunt your inner child so much." There are few lulls in this shipshape medical thriller. (July 5)
Forecast:A stylish jacket featuring crossed vials of blood will make McMahon's sophomore effort stand out on shelves.
Release date: 08/01/2002