From Publishers Weekly
A plethora of technical forensic detail adds much-needed gloss to a medical thriller involving largely two-dimensional characters. Heroine Joanna Blalock (also seen in Deadly Practice and Deadly Medicine) is head of forensic pathology at an L.A. hospital where her chock-full autopsy schedule has become even busier because of some sudden, in-hospital deaths: a leukemia patient awaiting a bone-marrow transplant suddenly succumbs, as does a woman whose breast cancer had appeared to be in remission. Aided by computer modeling, Julia tries to identify a corpse with missing fingertips and every facial bone broken. Do the deaths have anything to do with the HMO to which the victims belonged? After a vicious killer forces her car off a hilly road, Joanna recovers?but with amnesia. She is saved from another attempt on her life when a homeless woman hides her in a deserted Venice Beach building. Joanna and her on-again, off-again lover, LAPD Lieutenant Jake Sinclair, have a climactic face-off with the killer and the chief villain (whose identity will not be a surprise); and we learn of yet another dastardly plot to kill sick people for profit. The writing is at best serviceable ("They were cornered, imprisoned like in a container"), but Goldberg, a celebrated pathologist and professor at the UCLA Medical Center, engages us with enough convincing and engaging shop talk to keep this thriller off the coroner's table. Major ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
When three women--all patients at Memorial Hospital, insured by Health First, and candidates for bone-marrow transplants--die mysteriously, several people set out to find, or cover up, the murderer(s). The setters-out include forensic pathologist Joanna Blalock, detective Jake Sinclair, and Karl Rimer, who, according to official records, died in Vietnam. A faceless, fingertipless man serves as the thread that ties much of this fascinating, fast-moving story together, while artistic blue-and-gold tattoos furnish links for the pursuers. When Joanna's car is pushed over a cliff, breathless but believable chase scenes follow. Homeless Emma saves the day several times but gets her brains blown out. Joanna, Jake, Karl, and two of the Health First higher-ups finally come together in the research tower, and Emma's old Mace can helps to keep the subsequent deaths on the right side. The three woman patients died, it turns out, in the name of cost-containment, which makes this thriller a thought-provoking glimpse into what controlled, if not managed, care may soon offer us all. William Beatty