cover image Vital Signs

Vital Signs

Robin Cook / Author Putnam $21.95 (396p) ISBN 978-0-399-13575-

Cook's popular medical thrillers are designed, in part, to keep the public aware of both the technological possibilities of modern medicine and the ensuing ethical problems. His topic this time is reproductive science and the often murky baby-making business. Epidemiologist Marissa Blumenthal, seen before in Outbreak , now has a successful pediatrics practice near Boston and an affluent health-care-entrepreneur husband. But her inability to become pregnant threatens both her marriage and her career. After unsuccessful visits to a local fertility clinic, she discovers a suprising and suspicious link between her medical records and those of an inordinate number of the clinic's clients. Traveling to Australia to learn more about a worldwide in vitro fertilization organization, Marissa and her friend Wendy are trailed, and a tragedy occurs. Marissa, now accompanied by the physician whose work she had come to Australia to investigate, goes to Hong Kong and eventually China--fleeing murderous assailants every step of the way--before a billion-dollar international scam is revealed. As always, Cook enlivens predictable action and shallow characterization with medical expertise and timely subject matter. (Jan.)