cover image Death Benefit

Death Benefit

Robin Cook. Putnam, $26.95 (420p) ISBN 978-0-399-15746-2

In this formulaic medical thriller from bestseller Cook (Coma), Pia Grazdani, a 26-year-old Columbia Medical School student who’s overcome a difficult childhood to emerge as a brilliant, beautiful, if still troubled adult, attracts the interest of Nobel Prize–winning molecular geneticist Tobias Rothman. Rothman, who has worked with virulent strains of typhoid-causing salmonella, is focusing on a revolutionary program of growing entire organs from stem cells. Meanwhile, greedy Edmund Mathews, the chairman of LifeDeals Inc., is using the company to buy up life insurance policies cheaply based on current actuarial data. Facing devastating financial losses if organ transplants were to become much cheaper, Mathews and his partners scheme to end the threat posed by Rothman’s organogenesis work. Grazdani ends up squarely in the villains’ crosshairs, but fortunately, smitten fellow Columbia med student George Wilson is there for support. Cook’s deft handling of medical science helps lift an otherwise pedestrian plot. (Dec.)