cover image Skin


Ben Mezrich. HarperEntertainment, $23.95 (261pp) ISBN 978-0-06-105041-1

When a mild-mannered history professor goes on a bloody rampage after receiving a skin graft mistakenly harvested from the wrong cadaver, the violent episode draws FBI Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully into another eerie X-Files investigation. Though the cadaver, a John Doe found at the scene of a multiple-car pileup, has mysteriously vanished from the morgue, traces of red powder from the accident site lead the agents to Fibrol, a biotech company founded by former MASH surgeon Emile Paladin, who specialized in treating napalm burn victims. Records indicate that Paladin died in a hiking accident in the mountains of Thailand 15 years ago, but word that Paladin's brother, Andrew, is still alive in Thailand sends Scully and Mulder across the Pacific to learn more. There they discover that Paladin was obsessed with creating the perfect synthetic skin--and that his research coincided with the apparent reappearance of a horrific monster of local legend, Gin-Korng-Pew: the Skin Eater. Their penetration into the heart of the mystery uncovers a fiendish secret that will surprise no one. Though the story has plenty of the X-Files' usual matter-of-fact gore, there's little here to cause genuine shivers. Mezrich (Reaper) tells the tale largely from Mulder's point-of-view, but he and other characters are little more than animated clich s--evidence that one needs more than a series of bizarre events to make a convincing X-file. (May)