The New York Times bestseller is now in paperback. Power, religion, and bioscience collide in the new novel from the master of the medical thriller.
- Penguin Publishing Group
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- Product dimensions:
- 4.33(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.22(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 - 17 Years
Read an Excerpt
6:30 P.M., Wednesday, February 20, 2002
One Year Later
It seemed to Daniel Lowell that the taxi had senselessly pulled to a stop mid-block in the center of M Street in Georgetown, Washington D.C., a busy four-lane thoroughfare. Daniel had never liked riding in taxis. It seemed the height of ridiculousness to trust one's life to a total stranger who more often than not hailed from a distant Third World country and frequently was more interested in talking on his cell phone than paying attention to driving. Sitting in the middle of M Street an the darkness with rush-hour traffic whizzing, by on both sides and the driver carrying on emotionally in an unknown language was a case in point. Daniel glanced over at Stephanie. She appeared relaxed and smiled at him in the half-light. She gripped his hand affectionately.
It was only by leaning forward that Daniel could see there was a traffic light suspended from above to facilitate a rather awkward mid-block left-hand turn. Glancing at the other side of the street, he could see a driveway leading to a nondescript, boxy brick building.
"Is this the hotel?" Daniel questioned. "If it is, it doesn't look much like a hotel."
"Let's hold our evaluation until we have a little more data," Stephanie responded in a playful tone.
The light changed and the taxi leapt forward like a racehorse out of the gate. The driver only had one hand on the steering wheel as he accelerated through the turn. Daniel steadied himself to keep from being thrown against the car door. After a big bounce over the junction of the street and the hotel's driveway, and then another sharp left-hand turn beneath the hotel's porte cochere, the driver braked hard enough to put significant tension on Daniel's seat belt. A moment later, Daniel's door was pulled open.
"Welcome to the Four Seasons," a liveried doorman said brightly. "Are you checking in?"
Leaving their luggage in the hands of the doorman, Daniel and Stephanie entered the hotel lobby and headed toward the registration desk. They passed a grouping of statuary fit for a modern art museum. The carpet was thick and luxurious. Smartly dressed people lounged in overstuffed velvet chairs.
"How did you talk me into staying here?" Daniel questioned rhetorically. "The outside might be plain, but the interior suggests this is going to be expensive."
Stephanie pulled Daniel to a halt. "Are you trying to suggest that you've forgotten our conversation yesterday?"
"We had a lot of conversations yesterday," Daniel muttered. He noticed the woman who had just walked by carrying a French poodle had a diamond engagement ring the size of a Ping-Pong ball.
"You know what I'm talking about!" Stephanie proclaimed. She reached up and turned Daniel's face toward her own. "We decided to make the best of this trip. We're staying in this hotel for two nights, and we're going to indulge ourselves and, I would hope, each other."
Catching Stephanie's witty licentiousness, Daniel smiled in spite of himself.
"Your testifying tomorrow in front of Senator Butler's Health Policy Subcommittee is not going to be a walk in the park," Stephanie continued. "That's a given. But in spite of what happens there, we're going to at least take the memory of a nice experience back to Cambridge."
"Couldn't we have had a nice experience at a slightly less extravagant hotel?"
"Not in my book," Stephanie declared. "They have a health club, a masseuse, and top-rated room service, all of which we're going to take advantage of. So start relaxing and unwinding. Besides, I'll pick up the tab."
"Sure! With the salary I've been pulling down, I should give some back to the company."
"Oh, that's a low blow!" Daniel remarked playfully, while pretending to reel from a make-believe slap.
"Look," Stephanie said, "I know the company hasn't been exactly able to pay our salaries for a while, but I'm going to see that this whole trip goes on the company charge card. If things go really badly tomorrow which they very well might, bankruptcy court can decide how much the Four Seasons will be paid for our indulgence."
Daniel's smile erupted into a full laugh. "Stephanie, you never fail to amaze me!"
"You ain't seen nothing yet," Stephanie said with a smile. "The question is: Are you going to let your hair down or what? Even in the taxi, I could tell you were wound up like a piano wire."
"That was because I was worried about whether we were going to get here in one piece, not how we were going to pay for it."
"Come on, big spender," Stephanie said, urging Daniel forward. "Let's get up to our suite."
"Suite?" Daniel questioned, as he allowed himself to be dragged toward the registration desk.
Stephanie hadn't exaggerated. Their suite overlooked a part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal with the Potomac River in the background. On the coffee table in the sitting room was a cooler chilling a bottle of champagne. Vases of freshly cut flowers graced the bureau in the bedroom and the expansive countertop in the generous-size marble bathroom.
As soon as the bellman disappeared, Stephanie put her arms around Daniel. Her dark eyes stared up into his blue orbs. A slight smile played across her full lips. "I know you are under a lot of stress about tomorrow," she began, "so how about letting me be the tour leader? We both know that Senator Butler's proposed legislation would effectively outlaw your patented and brilliant procedure. And that would mean a cancellation of the second-round financing for the company, with obviously disastrous consequences. With that said and understood, let's forget about it for tonight. Can you do that?"
"I can try," Daniel said, although he knew it would be impossible. Failure was one of his worst fears.
"That's all I ask," Stephanie said. She gave him a quick kiss before breaking away to attend to the champagne. "Here's the schedule! We have a glass of bubbly, then take refreshing showers. Following that, we have reservations at a nearby restaurant called Citronelle that I hear is fantastic. After a wonderful meal, we come back here and make mad, passionate love. What do you say?"
"I'd be crazy to offer any resistance," Daniel said, raising his hands in mock surrender.
Stephanie and Daniel had been living together for more than two years and had developed a comfortable familiarity. They had noticed each other back in the mid-eighties, when Daniel had returned to academia and Stephanie was an undergraduate chemistry major at Harvard. Neither acted on their mutual attraction, since such liaisons were specifically frowned upon by university policy. Besides, neither had had the slightest notion that their feelings were reciprocal, at least not until Stephanie had completed her Ph.D. and had joined the junior faculty, giving them an opportunity to interact on more equal footing. Even their respective areas of scientific expertise complemented each other. When Daniel left the university to found his company, it was natural that Stephanie would accompany him.
"Not bad at all," Stephanie said, after she drained her flute and put the glass down on the coffee table. "Now! Let's flip to see who gets the shower first."
"No need to flip a coin," Daniel said, placing his empty glass next to Stephanie's. "I concede. You first. While you shower, I'll shave."
"You've got a deal," Stephanie said.
Daniel didn't know if it was the champagne or Stephanie's infectious buoyancy but he felt significantly less tense, although hardly less worried, as he lathered his face and began shaving. Having had only one glass, he suspected it was Stephanie. As she had implied, the morrow might bring disaster, a fear disturbingly reminiscent of Heinrich Wortheim's prophecy the day he'd discovered Daniel was moving back to private industry. But Daniel would try not to allow such thoughts to dominate their visit, at least for that evening. He would try to follow Stephanie's lead and enjoy himself.
Looking beyond his lathered image in the mirror, Daniel could see Stephanie's blurred figure through the misted glass-enclosed shower. Her singing voice could be heard over the roar of the water. She was thirty-six but looked more like twenty-six. As he had told her on more than one occasion, she'd done very well in the genetic lottery. Her tall, curvaceous figure was slender and firm as if she worked out regularly even though she didn't, and her dark, olive skin was nearly blemish-free. A mat of thick, lustrous dark hair with matching midnight eyes completed the picture.
The shower door opened, and Stephanie stepped out. She briskly dried her hair, totally unconcerned about her nakedness. For a moment, she bent over at the waist, allowing her hair to fall free as she frenetically rubbed it with the towel. Then she stood back uptight, flipping her hair back in the process like a horse redirecting its mane. When she switched to drying her back with a provocative wiggle of her hips, her line of sight happened to catch Daniel's stare in the mirror. She stopped.
"Hey!" Stephanie exclaimed. "What are you looking at? You're supposed to be shaving." Suddenly self-conscious, she wrapped herself in her towel as if it were a strapless minidress.
Initially embarrassed about being caught as a voyeur, Daniel quickly regained his equanimity. He put down his razor and stepped over to Stephanie. He gripped her shoulders and stared into her liquid-onyx eyes. "I just couldn't help but notice how sexy and absolutely alluring you look."
Stephanie tilted her head to the side to get a view of Daniel from a slightly different perspective. "Are you all right?"
Daniel laughed. "I'm fine."
"Did you slip back to the sitting room and polish off that bottle of champagne?"
"I'm being serious."
"You haven't said anything like that for months."
"To say I've been preoccupied would be putting it mildly.
When I had the idea of founding the company, I had no idea that fund-raising was going to occupy one hundred and ten percent of my efforts. And now on top of it comes this political menace, threatening to destroy the whole operation."
"I understand," Stephanie said. "Truly I do, and I haven't taken it personally."
"Has it really been months?"
"Trust me," Stephanie said, nodding her head for emphasis.
"I apologize," Daniel said. "And to show my remorse, I'd like to make a motion to change the evening's schedule. I propose that we move up the lovemaking and put the dinner plans on hold. Do I hear a second?"
As Daniel tried to lean down to give Stephanie a playful kiss, she pushed his still-lathered face back with just the tip of her index finger on his nose. Her expression suggested she was touching something remarkably distasteful, especially as she wiped the bit of lather from her finger onto his shoulder. "Parliamentary rules are not going to maneuver this lady out of a good dinner," she remarked. "It took some effort to get those reservations, so the evening's plans hold as previously voted on and passed. Now back to shaving!" She gave him a spirited shove toward the sink, then stepped to the neighboring sink to dry her hair.
"Kidding aside," Daniel yelled over the sound of the hair dryer when he'd finished shaving. "You do look fantastic. Sometimes I wonder what you see in an old man like me." He patted his cheeks with aftershave lotion.
"Fifty-two is hardly old," Stephanie yelled back. "Particularly as active as you are. Actually, you're pretty sexy yourself."
Daniel regarded himself in the mirror. He thought he didn't look too bad, although he wasn't going to fool himself by imagining he was in any way sexy. Long ago, he'd reconciled himself to the fact that he was on the nerdy side of the equation of life, having grown up as a science prodigy since the sixth grade. Stephanie was just trying to be nice. He'd always had a thin face, so at least there was no problem with developing jowls or even wrinkles, save for some mild crow's feet at the corner of his eyes when he smiled. He'd stayed active physically, although not so much over the previous several months, due to the time constraints of fund-raising. As a faculty member at Harvard, he'd taken full advantage of the athletic facilities, using the squash and handball courts regularly, as well as the rowing opportunities on the Charles River. His only real appearance problem as he saw it was the retreating hairline at the upper corners of his forehead and the thinning area of his crown, plus the salt-and-pepper silvering of his otherwise brown hair along the sides of his head, but there wasn't much he could do about all that.
After both of them had finished primping, dressing, and donning their coats, they left the hotel armed with simple directions to the restaurant obtained from the concierge. Arm in arm, they strolled several blocks west along M Street, passing a potpourri of art galleries, bookshops, and antiques stores. The night was crisp but not too cold, with a canopy of stars visible despite the city lights.
The maître d' at the restaurant led them to a table off to the side that afforded a degree of privacy in the busy establishment. They ordered food and a bottle of wine, and settled back for a romantic dinner. By the time the entrees had been served and they both had had fun remembering their mutual attraction prior to their ever having dated, they lapsed into a contented silence. Unfortunately Daniel broke it.
"I probably shouldn't bring this up ..." Daniel began.
"Then don't," Stephanie interjected, having an immediate inclination of where Daniel was heading.
"But I should," Daniel said. "In fact, I have to, and this is a better time than later. Several days ago, you said you were going to research our tormentor, Senator Ashley Butler, with the idea of possibly giving me some help for tomorrow's hearing. I know you looked into it, but you didn't say anything. How come?"
"My recollection is that you agreed to forget about the hearing for tonight."
"I agreed to try to forget about the hearing," Daniel corrected. "I haven't been totally successful. Did you not bring up what you learned because you didn't find anything helpful or what? Help me here, and then we can put it all aside for the rest of the night."
Stephanie looked off for a few beats to organize her thoughts. "What do you want to know?"
Daniel let out a short, exasperated laugh. "You're making this more difficult than it needs to be. To be truthful, I don't know what I want to know, because I don't know enough to even ask questions."
"He's not going to be easy."
"We already had that impression."
"He's been in the senate since 1972, and his seniority gives him significant clout."
"I'd assumed as much, since he's the chairman of the subcommittee," Daniel said.
Meet the Author
Robin Cook, M.D., is the author of more than thirty books and is credited with popularizing the medical thriller with his wildly successful first novel, Coma. He divides his time among Florida, New Hampshire, and Boston. His most recent novels include Host, Cell, and Nano.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Dr. Daniel Lowell leaves his secured tenured position as chairman of his department at Harvard to open his own research company specializing in gene therapy. He develops the HTSR technique, which involves replacing a part of a person¿s DNA that causes a particular disease with DNA that is disease free. His research is so cutting edge that Senator Ashley Butler is sponsoring a bill that will outlaw the technique. Senator Butler, the most powerful man in the Senate is diagnosed with Parkinson¿s Disease, which will end his hopes for running for president. Unable and unwilling to accept defeat the senator approaches Daniel with a proposal that will benefit them both. He will quietly drop his opposition to HTSR if Daniel will use that technique to cure him. He also wants the DNA to be used to come from the Shroud of Turin and he uses his powerful connections to get the Church to give Daniel a sample. The operation will take place in a private medical facility in the Bahamas if Daniel and his beautiful assistant can outrun and outwit Italian police and Mafia hitmen. Robin Cook once again takes readers to the edge with this action-packed chilling medical thriller. He raises some very interesting social and moral issues and make it clear that politicians should not be the ones who decide whether a new medical technique should be available to the general public. SEIZURE is Robin Cook at his very best. Harriet Klausner
I would only recommend you read this book if: * You are a die-hard Robin Cook Fan. * You liked SHOCK, and understand that Spencer Wingate and his cohorts at the Wingate Clinic play a relatively small but central role in this book. * You are interested in the medical aspects and the ethical debate concerning cloning and stem cell research. * Finally: you are a speed reader who only skims most novels for the central element of the plot and are not bothered by unlikable characters and uneven writing. The plot is as described the book jacket. Dr. Daniel Lowell, a brilliant medical researcher (previously employed by Merck) resigns the Harvard faculty to start his own biotech firm. He is joined by his younger associate, Stephanie D'Agostino, with the hope of commercializing a procedure developed by Daniel, HTSR (Homologous Transgenic Segmental Recombination). Their future is threatened when the powerful Senator Ashley Butler threatens to introduce legislation banning the procedure at a time when Daniel's firm is in need of a further cash infusion from his venture capital backers. Meanwhile, Senator Butler's staff research has led him to believe that the HTSR treatment might successfully provide a cure for his recently diagnosed but rapidly progressing Parkinson's Disease. (Since it would threaten his political career, his disease has been a closely kept secret, known only to his long time aide Carol Manning and his physician.) There are several subplots including a DNA sample extracted from a fragment of the Shroud of Turin, the use of the facilities of the Wingate clinic (which has relocated to the Bahamas), and Stephanie's family connections to the Boston Mob (in an unbelievable use of stereotyping). As the author has explained, he wants to use his books to inform and enlighten, as well as preach whatever happens to be his message of the moment. However, in the process he forgets that his stories should also be interesting and entertaining. He claims that he needed to research the political aspects of this book in D.C., and yet the political insights are minimal. The information on the Shroud of Turin was new to me, but the segments on therapeutic cloning were much too technical and lengthy to maintain my interest. Thus a story with several potentially interesting subplots and which had the potential to involve an interesting discussion of the potential ethical dilemmas involved in biotech experimentation tried to do too much and as a result accomplished almost nothing. In addition, without exception the characters were totally unlikable stereotypes and caricatures. Daniel was a selfish individual lacking in judgment who was only interested in fame and fortune; the Catholic clergy were primarily interested in their political goals; Senator Butler was a totally self-centered fraud, Stephanie was portrayed as the typical female companion who was too weak to resist Daniel's and the Senator's plan even though her instincts and her intuition told her it was wrong and would probably fail; finally, the distractions caused by her family had no discernible purpose except to lengthen the book. And if you plan to read this book to find out what happened to Spencer Wingate, Paul Saunders and Kurt Hermann you will be disappointed as well. Even the dialog and the writing style seem unnatural for much of the book. I recommend you read the jacket review and go buy another book.
Interesting plot, quick read!
Robin Cook continues to amaze me with each book. I loved the "divine intervention", mixing science and such an interesting and controversial topic as the shroud of Turin. I enjoyed the book so much it only took me a couple of days to finish. I surely recommend this book to any long time fan and even more to a new fan!
This had the potential for a great read, however, there was zero delivery in the plot. In my mind, the strength of the plot and ending are indicative of the author's skills. If you you want information on stem cell implantation and related topics, there are plenty of non-fiction reference books available. However, if you're looking for a great novel with a suspenseful ending, please be aware that Robin Cook did not deliver in this one.
This was a very average book. Compared to the other Robin Cook novels I've read, it was very disappointing. However, in general, it wasn't the worst I've ever read. The premise of the story is a little far fetched, yet very interesting. However, something about the novel turned me off a little--I wouldn't recommend this book, but if you love Robin Cook already, go for it.
I was just getting into the plot and premise and realized there were only 10 pages left. DNA from the Shroud of Turin and stem cell research mixed together had such great potential and then it just ended. Mr. Cook must have been up against a deadline or he just got bored. Either way, I'll be careful in the future when buying Cook's stories.
I've always enjoyed Robin Cook's writing, there's no doubt he's brilliant. However, this book was an absolute disappointment!! Its almost like he got bored and gave up on his creative thinking by ending the book abrubtly.
I must say that I enjoyed this title. I agree that there was no reason to include the mafia aspect. I generally enjoy the all but the last few pages of any Robin Cook novel. I really enjoy the medical 'faction.' Although, my opinion has been somewhat biaseded working in the medical field. All in all, good book, disapointing ending.
This book might have been better if the Mafia and accompanying descriptions of real or possible bone crunching had been deleted at publication. There was no need for sleazy criminal characters - the plot had enough interesting premises without violence being thrown in. However, no premise could hold up against the two main characters. They are unbelievable in their naivete, their dialogue only serving to reflect their coldblooded insensitivity and downright stupidity.
A very disappointing book by Robin Cook - not that any of his efforts are literary masterpieces - but a few of them are lively and entertaining. (This wasn't one of them.)SIEZURE consists mostly of rambling events of a couple of misguided researchers, the 'mob' (as in other Cook books), and some other bad guys in a 'plot' (that only crops up from time to time) to carry out groundbreaking stem cell implantation. I wouldn't recommend wasting time with this one!
This novel was different from other books that Robin Cook has written. It was exciting but I thought it was going to have a much more exciting ending. Either way is worth reading. It is like the following story of Shock but you dont have to read Shock to understand this novel.
WOW SO ONLINE WITH THE HEALTH ISSUES OF ADVANCES IN MEDICINE WHICH ARE VERY DISTURBING THIS COULD HAPPEN!!!
This book had the makings of a plot but fell victim to really silly dialog. I kept imagining Dr. Lowell played by Eugene Levy! Perhaps Dr. Cook would do better if he got a 'collaborator' who can write zippy dialog without sounding stilted.
Excellent book, Cook knows how to keep you from falling asleep. I have read many of his novels and he just gets better. Love the Wingate Clinic, hope to see it back again soon in future novels of his. I will tell anyone to read it but first read ¿Shock¿ so you will have a better understanding, if not¿.you will be fine.
I've read every one of Robin Cook's books and his last two, Seizure and Shock, just didn't cut it for me.
This was to me by far, the worst of Cook's works. The plot could have been full of intrique but it just became so difficult to get through that I couldn't wait for it too end. I kept thinking I should stop reading,but I was expecting it to get better. It didn't.
Robin Cook has a point to make with this book about the issues surrounding cutting edge advances in cloning. Unfortunately, he does so at the expense of a taut, concise, plot. There are too many loose ends and rehashed elements from prior works that offset an intriguing premise. Readers may find the Shroud of Turin and Mafia subplots to be perplexing dead ends. Which brings one to the all too abrupt end of the novel. Perhaps there is a sequel looming to sew up those loose ends.
The latest novel by Robin Cook, SEIZURE, is a masterpiece!