"Vector," by Robin Cook. Putnam. $24.95.Robin Cook has...

Book Brief

February 28, 1999|By Waka Tsunoda | Waka Tsunoda,Knight Ridder/Tribune

"Vector," by Robin Cook. Putnam. $24.95.

Robin Cook has written plenty of scary medical thrillers, but his latest, "Vector," is probably the scariest.

That's because it deals with a real and imminent danger to everyone -- biological terrorism.

As the novel opens, Yuri Davydov, a disgruntled New York taxi driver, and a couple of hate-filled members of a violent far-right organization are plotting to spray the Big Apple with deadly anthrax bacterium and botulism toxin.

Yuri, who had been a technician in a Russian bioweapons factory, manufactures inhalational anthrax in his basement laboratory. He tests it on an unsuspecting rug merchant, who dies. But even Jack Stapleton, the novel's protagonist who performs the autopsy, does not immediately suspect budding bioterrorism.

Stapleton, the intrepid New York City medical examiner, most recently appeared in Cook's "Chromosome 6." Resourceful and unafraid of stepping on bureaucratic toes in his dogged pursuit of truth, he is without a doubt one of the most endearing characters in fiction. His basketball-playing neighbors who often act as his personal rescue squad are also delightful.

With a couple of twists at the end, "Vector" is one very cleverly plotted thriller. Perhaps it will also serve as a clarion call to alert the public to the dangers of bioterrorism.

Pub Date: 02/28/99

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