Blood Double

Blood Double

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by Neil McMahon

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From the very start, Dr. Carroll Monks knew that the businessman dumped from a limousine in the parking lot of Mercy Hospital wasn't a typical San Francisco junkie. Even after Monks had rushed the dying man inside and brought him back from the precipice of a heroin overdose—after the danger had, seemingly, passed-Monks sensed that something more sinister was

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From the very start, Dr. Carroll Monks knew that the businessman dumped from a limousine in the parking lot of Mercy Hospital wasn't a typical San Francisco junkie. Even after Monks had rushed the dying man inside and brought him back from the precipice of a heroin overdose—after the danger had, seemingly, passed-Monks sensed that something more sinister was brewing.

Just how sinister, he couldn't have guessed. First a phalanx of lawyers and doctors descended on the hospital and whisked the man away before Monks could find out more about the suspicious circumstances surrounding his arrival. Then a small fire broke out in the hospital—an act of sabotage that resulted in the disappearance of the man's blood samples. But the real shock came the next morning, when the newspapers reported the mysterious disappearance of billionaire Lex Rittenour. Rittenour, a beloved computer wunderkind, had long been rumored to be developing a top-secret technology involving the human genome, the medical applications of which had the potential to place his name alongside those of Lister, Curie, and Salk. Now, just days before the unveiling of his breakthrough, Rittenour—whom Monks now recognizes as the man he saved in the ER the night before-had, according to his corporate spokesmen, "gone into seclusion."

What begins for Monks as an inquiry into Rittenour's disappearance unearths something far more diabolical—the horrific facts behind genetic research done in Rittenour's name-and pits him against a corporation of dubious ethics, ruthless commando-style tactics, and a multi-billion-dollar motivation to protect its dark secrets.

As he did in his first Carroll Monks novel (Twice Dying), Neil McMahon creates from today's most complex ethical issues—in this case, the "progress" stemming from explosive new advances in genetics—the unforgettably chilling, electrifying drama of Blood Double.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Flinty, incorruptible San Francisco surgeon Carroll Monks returns in this entertaining but shallow sequel to McMahon's Twice Dying. This time, the gruff Mercy Hospital doctor is thrust into the midst of high-powered corporate intrigue after he saves the life of a scruffy-looking junkie who's overdosed on Demerol. Monk's daughter, Stephanie, an impressionable med school student, recognizes the drug abuser as Lex Rittenour, a reclusive and egomaniacal software designer who's the power behind the throne at Aesir, a major bio-tech company. Shortly after Rittenour is escorted out of the hospital's ER by shady Aesir attorney Ron Tygard, Mercy's blood lab is attacked by saboteurs posing as local firemen. Rittenour's blood samples are among those destroyed, and the cagey Monks and Stephanie quickly deduce that Aesir is trying to destroy any evidence that its genius-in-residence was ever at the hospital. The company can't afford any negative publicity: it's planning a major IPO and putting the finishing touches on REGIS, a revolutionary piece of software that can quickly and comprehensively scan any individual's entire genetic makeup. When Monks sets out to confront Aesir's head honchos, he finds himself contending with the company's ruthless CEO, Ken Bouldin; the seductive Dr. Martine Rostanov; and a secret, highly unethical research project conducted on illegal Korean immigrants. McMahon's sophomore effort shows little depth or character development, and his exploration of the ethical dark side of genetic research can be pat. Still, the novel is plenty of fun, with swift pacing, some tense scenes and a likably crusty protagonist. Monks has a real knack for putting people in their place, as when he tells the obnoxious Tygard, "You don't have to flaunt your inner child so much." There are few lulls in this shipshape medical thriller. (July 5) Forecast: A stylish jacket featuring crossed vials of blood will make McMahon's sophomore effort stand out on shelves. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Medical student Stephanie Monks is assisting her physician father Carroll in the ER when a drug-overdose case is wheeled in. He identifies himself as John Smith, but Steph recognizes him as Lex Rittenour, the highly publicized wunderkind behind Aesir, a company on the brink of going public with its stock and its scientific breakthrough: Regis, a computer program that pinpoints the genes causing myriad diseases. Aesir bigwigs and Martine Rostanov, his personal physician, arrange for Rittenour/Smith's release, but he soon eludes them and turns up on Carroll's doorstep, insisting his alleged buddies are trying to kill him. Arson destroys the hospital lab, Aesir's CEO tries to bribe Carroll to forget he treated Rittenour, someone shoots up his car, and to keep himself, Steph, and Rittenour alive, Carroll and his old friend, a p.i. named Larrabee, must feint and dodge their way through San Francisco's twisty streets, deserted factories, and the odd Korean whorehouse to discover who among the Aesir executives is resorting to murder to protect Regis and the IPO. A step down from Twice Dying (2000), as McMahon cribs his plot device from recent genetic-engineering headlines and strains to place poor Carroll Monks in the detective mode.
Phillip Margolin
“BLOOD DOUBLE is a taut, gripping thriller about the evil possibilities of cutting edge science. Carroll Monks is an exciting new series character and I’m looking forward to his next adventure.”
“A fast-paced, intelligent medical thriller that gives Michael Palmer...a run for [his] money.”
Boston Teran
Praise for Twice Dying"TWICE DYING is a triumph of character, plot and passion."
San Antonio Express
Praise for Twice Dying"McMahon tells a story that is rich in medical detail and steeped in horror."
“Like John Grisham and James Patterson, McMahon excels at moving his plot along . . . Blood Double is all about movement-the only thing stationary is the reader, likely for the entire length of the book.”

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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Carroll Monks Series , #2
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Blood Double

By Neil McMahon

Harper Collins Publishers

Copyright © 2003 Neil McMahon All right reserved. ISBN: 0060197668

Chapter One

Carroll Monks was standing on the spot he thought of as the bridge of Mercy Hospital's emergency room. It was like the command deck of a ship, the point from which he could monitor most of what was going on at any given time: the eight private cubicles, six of which were occupied; the trauma room, which was not; the activities of his resident, nurses, and other staff; the softly bleeping monitors and blinking lights of the complex instruments; and the main desk, where the charge nurse worked at a computer. Monks could glimpse through the glass doors into the waiting room, which held a further group of postulants, most of them in discomfort, none in severe distress. He could hear the ongoing radio report of a team of paramedics in the field, attending to a mild heart attack that did not require his intervention.

This was the way the ER was most of the time, busy but stable - and tensed for whatever might burst through the oors that would throw it into organized frenzy.

It was a damp Tuesday evening in March, 7:07 p.m.

Monks sensed a stir in the waiting room, a tiny ripple of movement that caught his gaze. A woman was coming in. He got an instant impression as she yanked open the door, framed inits light. She was about twenty, pretty, sturdily built, with black hair and golden skin: Asian. Heavily made up, wearing a short black dress. On her own feet, with no obvious injury.

But moving fast. Half-running, on spike heels, to the desk. Speaking urgently to the receptionist, pointing back outside.

The receptionist leaned forward, puzzled.

The Asian woman closed her eyes and quickly placed her palms together beside her tilted face, a child's gesture of sleep. Then she jabbed her finger toward the outside again.

Monks said, "Nurse!" and moved for the door.

The cool wet air of the San Francisco night blurred his eyes, and he squinted to focus in the orange-yellow glow of the parking lot's lights. Twenty yards ahead, a figure lay sprawled on the sidewalk, with another crouched over it. Their faces were touching. Monks felt an instant of eerie terror, the shocking sense that he had stumbled onto an act of desperate passion gone wrong, or even a vampire ripping into its victim's throat.

But then the crouching man's face lifted, and Monks saw one hand pinching the downed man's nostrils, the other positioned behind the neck. This was not violence, it was mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Monks turned to yell behind, "I've got an unconscious man, he's not breathing, let's go," and dropped to his knees beside the sprawled figure. His fingers touched the neck to find the carotid artery's pulse. It was barely detectable. He thumbed an eyelid open and could just make out the blank round iris, the pupil shrunk to a pinpoint. The body was shutting down.

The crouched man, like the woman, was Asian: small, wiry, gaunt-faced. His eyes watched Monks.

"Ovahdose," he said. His hands moved to make a quick gesture of jabbing a needle into his arm.

The other man was Caucasian, in his late thirties. His face was dirty and abraded, as if from falling. But his shirt was hand-woven, tailored cotton, and his shoes leather loafers that also looked handmade. His teeth were beautifully cared for. This was not the sort of junkie Monks was used to, and his first guess would have been respiratory failure from another cause - except for what the Asian man seemed to be telling him.

Monks said, "Are you sure?"

The Asian shook his head in incomprehension. "Ovahdose," he said again, and bent back to the mouth-to-mouth. He was quick and efficient, obviously trained; had sustained the fragile hold on life for critical minutes.

Monks decided to believe him.

Monks craned around. Two nurses were coming fast with a gurney, kneeling with the Ambu bag to take over breathing. The Asian man exhaled one last breath into the receiving lungs, then moved out of the way in a crouching roll that made Monks think of a paratrooper's landing fall.

He strode ahead into the ER, calling orders, stepping into gloves and barrier gown. The nurses prepped the patient, putting a rolled towel behind his neck, hooking him to a cardiac monitor, preparing an IV. A respiratory therapist took over the Ambu bag, now hooked to an oxygen source. A third nurse arrived with a clipboard to note procedures and times.

His gaze swept the room. His daughter Stephanie, in her first year of medical school, was working part-time as a hospital attendant. When Monks was on duty, she liked to visit the ER, getting a feel for it. She was standing against a wall, hands clasped like a shy girl waiting to be asked to dance: eager to help, afraid to interfere.

He called to her, "Take over recording." It would free up the nurse, and give Stephanie a look at why she might want to choose another specialty.

"I'm having trouble breathing for him, Doctor." The therapist was holding the mask against the patient's face with one hand and squeezing the plastic sack hard with the other, but the lungs were not inflating well. Monks stepped in, pulled the jaw forward, and leaned close to listen. Over the weak breaths came the harsh sound of stridor: vocal cords or tongue had swollen, obstructing the passage.

He said, "Let's get an oral airway in." He held the mouth open while she inserted the device, a flanged four-inch tube, to allow air past the tongue. He realized he was taking deep breaths himself, that he was unconsciously resisting what was happening, reassuring himself that it was not happening to him. He braced himself for the next step, the insertion of an endotracheal tube. It was a risky procedure...


Excerpted from Blood Double by Neil McMahon
Copyright © 2003 by Neil McMahon
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Blood Double 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
About 200 pages. Good plot. Worth reading.