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by Robin Cook
G.P. Putnam's Sons, December 2019
400 pages
ISBN: 0525542159

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

GENESIS, the 12th in Robin Cook's series featuring Dr. Laurie Montgomery and Dr. Jack Stapleton, blends personal family developments with professional issues in an impressive medical thriller.

Dr Montgomery is the Chief Medical Examiner of NYC, married to Dr Jack Stapleton, who is also a medical examiner. On the personal front: Laurie and Jack have an autistic daughter; their son has behavioral problems in school; and Laurie, whose mother and grandmother had breast cancer and she has a mutation in BRCA1, is due for her annual mammogram. On the professional side: Laurie is getting complaints about Dr Aria Nichols, a pathology resident, from Chet McGovern, the Director of Education for the Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME); and a social worker, just found dead of an overdose, requires her attention.

Deciding to evaluate Dr Nichols herself, Laurie decides she and Dr Nichols will perform the autopsy on the social worker, Kera Jacobsen. An unexpected development: Kera is found to be ten weeks pregnant though her family and friends report that she had no boyfriend. There is also no evidence that Kera used drugs except for the fact that a syringe was hanging from her arm when her body was discovered by a friend and co-worker, Madison Bryant, after she'd been missing for a couple of days. So, the death is suspicious, and the father is MIA.

Dr Nichols, considered a sociopath by colleagues, decides to find out who the father of Kera's baby is. The uncharacteristic decision contradicts Dr Nichols' typical behavior – usually arrogant, rude, dismissive – she is not a team player. She reaches out to Madison as she begins to question colleagues and friends. Madison suggests using DNA genealogy to ID the boyfriend since a few companies have developed 'phasing' kits that can use the mother's DNA and the fetus' DNA to narrow the match for the father to within a group of close relatives.

Meanwhile, Laurie's mammogram leads to an MRI and the identification of suspicious lumps. Based on her history, Laurie and Jack needed to discuss options – soon.

According to Reuters, Robin Cook is credited as the inventor of the medical thriller. GENESIS is an excellent example of how well Dr Cook fabricates mystery, combining his medical knowledge with good story telling. As a physician Dr Cook often slips into informative, yet technical detail as he explains what is happening, medically speaking. And as usual, this author relies on cutting edge technology to anchor his plot, this time to help solve the crime.

§ Ruth Castleberry has worked as an investigator for Pinkerton’s, a city desk assistant on the Charlotte News, free-lance writer, marketing/business strategy consultant, competitive intelligence practitioner and digital marketing consultant.

Reviewed by Ruth Castleberry, December 2019

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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