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Chromosome 6
By Robin Cook

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Chromosome 6

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Chromosome 6
By Robin Cook
Thorndike Press - Large Print (1997)
ISBN: 0-7862-1098-2
Genre: Medical Thriller

Reviewed by Anna Dogole - January 6, 2002

Chromosome 6 is typical Robin Cook fair. At its essence, it is a fast paced, chilling, medical detective story in which the characters tend to take a back seat to the medical aspects of the plot. This is a normal state of affairs in most of Cook's medical thrillers, and Chromosome 6 is no different. This is a story about organ transplantation, and the possible dangers that could arise if the organs became a tradable commodity. Cook tackles this issue by taking bead on the efforts being undertaken to discover animal reservoirs of organs, which can, with a little manipulation, be used in humans. But most important, this book tackles the questions, How ethical is it to kill animals to harvest their organs? Who should get these organs? And, are all advances in medical science automatically good?

In Chromosome 6, Cook has returned to one of his favorite main characters, Doctor Jack Stapleton, an associate medical examiner in the New York City Medical Examiner's office. He has also resurrected some of Jack's cohorts, namely Dr. Laurie Montgomery, his co-worker and friend and their mutual 'friend on the force', Detective Lieutenant Lou Soldano. Both Lou and Jack are a bit smitten with Laurie, but Cook spends little time on this aspect of the story.

Chromosome 6 is basically, two intertwined stories, and is, consequently, a bit more complicated than is usual for Cook's novels. The first 'story' takes place primarily in New York, where the medical examiners are faced with the task of doing the postmortem on Carlo Franconi, a Mafia figure who has been murdered. But before the autopsy can be performed, his body disappears from the morgue. This unprecedented event starts Laurie on a quest to discover how the body could have disappeared. For Jack's part, he quickly is enmeshed in a mystery of his own - discovering who is the headless, handless, mutilated corpse that has ended up on his table, and how did he die.

Along side the stories of Laurie and Jack, Cook also introduces us to Kevin Marshal, a 34-year-old nerd who is working for GenSys, a biotech company. Kevin lives in Equatorial Guinea where he is doing researcher using Bonobos, a type of primate. It is in Equatorial Guinea where the second 'story' takes place, as Kevin must solve a mystery of his own. Along the way he is aided by Melanie Becket and Candace Brickman, two women who have an energizing affect on the reserved researcher. With deftness and a flare for quickly moving plots, Cook merges Laurie, Jack, and Kevin's stories into one, complicated, interconnected, plot. Although Laurie and Jack are the main characters in this story, Kevin is by far the most memorable.

Both the group in New York, and the one in Africa, risk their lives to learn their respective truths. And, as the stories progress, you will find that you are holding your breath as the tension mounts. In many of Cook's books, the solution to the 'problem' magically falls into the hero's lap, without any real effort on his part. In this book, however, Cook makes his characters work for their reward, especially as the story reaching its arresting climax. But then Cook nearly ruins an otherwise delightful book by simply dropping the story, leaving you wondering what happened to the characters after the medical mystery was wrapped up. All that was needed to neatly wrap everything up was only one or two more paragraphs. But for some reason Cook did not include this extra, albeit extraneous, information. While this information was not really necessary, I still found it very frustrating to get to the end of a book, a book which I truly enjoyed, only to find that the author forgot to let me know what happened to all the characters. In fact, you don't even get to know if the villains ever got their just deserts!!

Despite the weakness of the ending, I'm still recommending this book. It was an enjoyable and non-taxing book to read, perfect for long trips or a nice lazy day when all you want to do is simply curl up and just read for fun. It also raises some interesting questions and it will give you some additional insights into the Laurie, Jack, and Lou triangle that pops up in many of Cook's novels. Overall, this is a decent book. And if you're a Robin Cook fan, you'll not want to miss Chromosome 6.

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