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By Robin Cook
Thorndike Press - Large Print Edition (2005)
ISBN: 0-7862-7686-X
Genre: Medical Thriller

Reviewed by Simone Bonim - July 29, 2005

Robin Cook has resurrected Dr. Laurie Montgomery and Dr. Jack Stapleton in his newest medical thriller, Marker. Returning to his writing roots, Cook once again places New York Medical examiners Montgomery and Stapleton in harms way as they seek to uncover the truth behind a rash of deaths. What makes this case so compelling is that all the dead are relatively young, healthy people who all died within days of having minor surgery. As the investigation unfolds, what first looked like a serial killer was at work soon begins to look more and more like purposeful negligence on behalf of a health care bureaucracy bent on saving money and protecting their own reputations at the cost of their patients.

Montgomery and Stapleton have been silent since they last appeared in the literary world in Cook's book Vector which came out in the late 1990's. As this book opens, Laurie and Jack have been living together, but she soon leaves him as he is unwilling to commit to marriage. Past forty, Laurie sees her chances of ever starting a family quickly dwindling and she doesn't want to waste any more time on Jack and his emotional baggage. Even worse, they still work together, and they must work to keep their personal lives from negatively impacting their professional relationship.

As in previous novels, it is Montgomery that first begins to suspect that something sinister is behind the deaths of so many of her 'clients' whom she is tasked with doing autopsies on. It takes quite a bit of convincing to win Stapleton to her side. At first they think they have a single killer on the loose, but the plot soon thickens into a conspiracy theory of epic proportions. Along the way, Montgomery meets what she thinks is the man of her dreams in the form of Dr. Roger Rosseau, one of the doctors at the hospital where the first set of victims has their surgery. However, as you might well expect, not everyone is whom they seem to be and danger lurks around every corner for the unwary.

Marker is a fine thriller that ventures into the realm of genetic testing and gene therapies as Montgomery learns that she may carry the genetic marker for breast cancer. This is a well plotted and well crafted action-packed story that will hold your attention from beginning to end. Laurie and Jack have always been my favorite Cook characters, and I'm pleased to see that he has at last returned to their storyline. I look forward to additional books by Robin Cook that feature these appealing characters.

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