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Shock    by Robin Cook order for
by Robin Cook
Order:  USA  Can
Penguin Putnam, 2002 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio

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* *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

This latest mystery hot off Robin Cook's assembly line is medically up-to-the-minute, dealing with the shadier aspects of infertility clinics, stem cell research and cloning. The story's characters, unfortunately, are not as interesting or believable as the scientific possibilities. Joanna Meissner has just given up her long-time lover, doctor-in-training Paul, as a lost cause after he again postpones their wedding plans. Her room-mate, Deborah Cochrane, persuades her to respond to an ad by a highly profitable fertility clinic which is willing to pay $45,000.00 each to a few young, healthy, attractive, intelligent women to donate eggs for use in the clinic's program. They apply, are accepted and undergo the necessary procedures - one under general anaesthetic, and one who is reluctantly allowed to have local anaesthesia only, a difference which becomes very important later.

They happily take the money and use it, first to buy an apartment and then to travel to Venice, to study for a year and a half. Unfortunately, on their return, Joanna is obsessed with the need to find out what became of her harvested eggs, and from this point the story loses credibility. Joanna and Deborah risk the danger of being recognised and get jobs at the clinic, with the intention of hacking into its computerised records. They find out more than they bargained for and are, of course, discovered by the villainous clinic manager and his murderous, psychotic security chief. Cook is a competent writer and he has provided enough excitement, and twists and turns of plot, to hold his readers' attention - if they can suspend their disbelief long enough to ignore the implausibilities.

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