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For more than 20 years, Robin Cook has been the undisputed master of the medical thriller, coming up with plots that tap into our darkest fears and exploit our greatest vulnerabilities. His latest book, Vector, is no exception, offering up the specter of biological terrorism as its premise. Bringing back forensic pathologists Jack Stapleton and Laurie Montgomery, who were last seen in Chromosome 6, Cook delivers a tale of ultimate terror nestled in the comfort of some of his best-known and most likable characters.
Like so many other immigrants, Russian Yuri Davydov came to the United States in search of the great American dream. What he found instead was a capitalistic and segregated society that leaves him eking out his existence as a New York City cabdriver rather than utilizing his extensive knowledge and training in bio-weapons research. Forced into a marriage of convenience so he can stay in the country, Yuri has grown bitter and resentful. As a result, he has decided to return to Russia, but not before seeking revenge against his adoptive nation by putting his superior knowledge to use in a way that will immortalize him and make him a hero back in his homeland.
When fate hooks Yuri up with members of a neo-Nazi group that call themselves the People's Aryan Army, it seems a match made in heaven. The PAA is anxious to exact its own revenge upon the American government in retribution for the incidents at Ruby Ridge and Waco. The PAA has targeted the Jacob Javits Federal Building in New York City for its terrorism; Yuri is prepared to unleash his revenge upon the general populace by releasing a biological agent in Central Park.
The weapon of choice is anthrax, a potent and deadly bacteria capable of killing within a day or two of exposure. Yuri's knowledge of how to culture and package the deadly bacteria, combined with the PAA's intricate plan for dispersing it, will mean the deaths of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers in a matter of days. But before this unlikely band of terrorists implement their deadly act, they want to make sure the bacteria will have the desired effect. Yuri tests his homegrown killer on an unsuspecting Greek rug dealer, who dies within 24 hours of exposure. Thrilled with their success, the terrorists start the clock ticking as New York City's citizens go about their business, totally unaware of the havoc about to be unleashed.
Dr. Jack Stapleton, a politically incorrect forensic pathologist and infectious-disease expert in the New York City Medical Examiner's office, has his mind on other things. His ongoing love interest and coworker, Dr. Laurie Montgomery, has been unusually cool and distant for the past month or so. Then she does a sudden about-face, inviting Jack out for dinner to share some exciting news that has her acting positively jubilant. Fearing that Laurie may be leaving to take a position on the West Coast, Jack becomes despondent. But when he finds out the real reason behind Laurie's joy, the shocking news leaves him confused and devastated.
Ever the workaholic, Jack distracts himself with his job. When the rug dealer's body ends up on his autopsy table, Jack quickly identifies the cause of the man's death. But Yuri was clever enough to choose a victim for whom exposure to the unusual bacterial strain is easily explainable and little cause for panic. Still, nagging doubts about the case prompt Jack to investigate a little deeper. As other mysterious deaths occur, Jack and Laurie are drawn together in a race to solve the puzzle. When Jack is forced to step beyond the boundaries of procedure, protocol, and politics, it will ultimately jeopardize both his job and his life. And as the terrorists carry out the final phase of their plan, Laurie and Jack find themselves in a race against death, trying to save not just their own lives but those of the American people.
Vector is a riveting read that will leave readers both frightened and enthralled. With today's headlines hawking both the threat and reality of bio-terrorist attacks, such as the release of sarin gas in a Tokyo subway and the existence of Iraq's bio-weapons production facilities, Cook has once again zeroed in on an all-too-real scenario that makes for the most terrifying of fiction.
Beth Amos is the author of several mainstream suspense thrillers, including Second Sight, Eyes of Night, and Cold White Fury. She lives in Richmond, Virginia.
A vector, as in the title, is a carrier that transmits an infectious agent from one host to another. Back from Chromosome 6 (1997) are Drs. Jack Stapleton and Laurie Montgomery, forensic pathologists in the New York Chief Medical Examiner's office. The first victim to come under their scope is Jason Papparis, a rug dealer who inhaled a fatal dust sent to him in a small box-how grisly, how amusing, a rug dealer murdered by dust! Also on hand at the morgue is dead and mutilated young skinhead Brad Cassidy, victim of the People's Aryan Army, which has been recruiting skinheads as shock troops and "tapping into that well of hatred and violence the music has engendered" (in Cookprose, music can engender a well). The pathologists find that Papparis died of anthrax. As it happens, a disaffected Russian, Yuri Davydov, once a low-level worker in a Russian bioweapons lab, has managed to get himself into the US and turn Manhattan cab driver. An anti-Semite, Yuri feels dismissed as a human being by American Zionists and has set up a bioweapons lab in his basement in Brighton Beach, undertaking what he calls Operation Revenge.
Meanwhile, he falls in with ex-military noncoms Steve Henderson and Curt Rogers, who are now NYC firemen as well as followers of the People's Aryan Army. The three hatch a plot to avenge Ruby Ridge by releasing Yuri's anthrax into the ventilation system of the 40-story Jacob Javits building, while Yuri also really wants to stick it to Manhattan's Jews by encircling Central Park with a ring of the incredibly infectious toxin.
What can a mere pair of pathologists do to stop this crew of nuts? Cook himself believes that a bioterrorist event is, without question, locked into our future. Not really a thought to minimize, as his cautionary tale observes.
Robin Cook: I am doing very well.
Robin Cook: I think it is definitely going to happen, and unfortunately with a lot of my books what I have written about has happened. And now I am terrified after writing VECTOR that it will happen sooner rather than later.
Robin Cook: Unfortunately, people like this organization do exist, and there are an estimated 40,000-50,000 people who feel so strongly that they are willing to commit violent acts to create panic and chaos.
Robin Cook: I have been invited by my Brazilian publisher to come to Brazil in April for a large book fair in Rio. 1)Candace was in my book ACCEPTABLE RISK, which was a book that I liked because it involved the Salem Witch Trials. I don't presently have nay plans to use her again, not like I have used Laurie Montgomery and Jack Stapleton, who are the main characters in VECTOR. 3) Michael Palmer decided to write medical thrillers after reading COMA, and I have to say that I have not read one, but I have encouraged many of my doctor friends to write.
Robin Cook: I have mixed feelings about Hollywood. I have had good experiences, and I have had bad experiences, but I still would like to see some of my important books turned into movies because then the message gets out to people who might not read. The biggest plan is that I just teamed up with Jerry Bruckheimer to use Laurie and Jack as the main characters for a new TV drama series -- that is new information.
Robin Cook: The best advice I can give to an aspiring novelist is to read a lot and write a lot and have persistence, but I have also noted that most of the writers that I know have had some other career first that they can use as the background of their novels.
Robin Cook: I do believe that physicians should be given the ability to deal appropriately with HMOs and insurance companies, and if that is the way it has to be then that is the way it should go, but my hope is that there would be a new association between doctors and patients, because they are the two groups that are left out of the current system.
Robin Cook: I have been asked several times to collaborate with a number of people, but I have always turned it down. I still feel that creativity by committee is an oxymoron.
Robin Cook: I will be in Atlanta at the Barnes & Noble, 2900 Peach Tree Road, on Wednesday, March 17th at 7pm ET.
Robin Cook: The major inspiration for VECTOR came from learning about a leak of anthrax from a secret Soviet factory in the Ural Mountains in 1979. It was in a city called Sverdlovsk.
Robin Cook: Actually, I still feel like a doctor who writes rather than a writer who is a doctor. I just feel like my patient base has gone from hundreds to millions.
Robin Cook: Before I start writing my books I do a very complete outline that goes through three variations. For one book my outline was more than 250 type pages, and the resulting manuscript was only 600 pages. In regard to your second question, "A Civil Action" was shockingly like FEVER, and that is the reason I am so terrified about VECTOR.
Robin Cook: I feel that both anthrax and smallpox are the two most probable organisms to be used in a bioterrorist event. So said, in retrospect I wish that smallpox had been totally destroyed.
Robin Cook: I still eat beef, but I have changed my behavior when it comes to ground meat. If I eat it, it has to be well, well done. When I have a steak, I do not puncture the surface of the steak with a fork to let the marinade get inside.
Robin Cook: I do, actually. Both Jack and I enjoy playing daily basketball. We both have a latent antipathy toward bureaucracy, but I would never ride a mountain bike down Second Avenue in New York.
Robin Cook: As I have written more and more books, I believe my writing has become better because I have been forced to learn on the job. Unfortunately, although I went to a very good liberal arts college, I didn't take any of those difficult and tough courses like English or writing and had to stay with courses like plasma physics.
Robin Cook: Being a doctor and being a writer are completely different occupations. And that is one reason that they go so well together, because being a good doctor makes you look very closely at your patients as people, and being a good writer means that you have had a lot of experience with people and crises.
Robin Cook: I do a lot of research before any novel that I write. With VECTOR, I ended up doing much more research than I expected because I found the issue so terrifying and fascinating.
Robin Cook: No. It is an interesting idea because I think my life shows that hard work, diligence, and a little bit of luck really can pay off in our current society.
Robin Cook: I enjoy reading many of the books on the bestseller list. Right at the moment I am reading a book by Michael Connelly -- BLACK ECHO.
Robin Cook: I don't feel as if I have left the practice of medicine. I still maintain my connections with the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and I continue to stay current in medicine.
Robin Cook: My next book is actually already outlined and ready for me to start writing it. The one after that is in the initial research stage. I am usually working on several topics at the same time but at different levels.
Robin Cook: One of my rituals is to have the desk be completely clean before I start writing -- I have to clean it off. I can't have any other projects or mail or bills or anything like that in the same room, because it is too easy to put of starting to write, because writing takes a lot of discipline.
Robin Cook: Yes, I do some research on the Internet, particularly to download articles that I am interested in, but otherwise I find that it is best for me to go the direct source.
Robin Cook: Whenever I get into a cab I always look to see the name of the individual driver and try to play a game of guessing what country he is from, and I always have a conversation with the driver. I guess that is partly because I think if we become friends he will drive a little better.
Robin Cook: I liked the cover for VECTOR. I had wanted to change the main direction of my covers to more of a design rather than an image, and yet, when I did the cover or saw the cover with just the V, I thought it needed something else to give it a nonfiction look, even though everyone knows it is a novel.
Robin Cook: I hope that people like VECTOR as much as I do. I think is the best ending that I have come up with for one of my novels, and I think it is the best ending that I have come across for a thriller like this, and I hope the general public feels the same.
Posted May 13, 2001
This is a very interesting medical thriller that grabs your attention but I felt it was not quite as well written as others out there. I read this right before I read Critical Judgment by Michael Palmer and I found that Critical Judgment was a better novel overall due to the fact that the story seemed be very specific rather than being to general. Nevertheless, this is a very good book.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 7, 2013
Posted February 29, 2012
Posted March 2, 2007
Outstanding, well done Dr. Cook! More twists and turns than a bag of pretzels. I just could not put this book down it is a real edge of the seat read. The pages just fly by with intense entertainment.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 24, 2006
Vector by Robin Cook is forgettable at best. It's not that its really all that bad its just that its like a mediocre action film, theres nothing special here. In fact, I thought it was rather boring.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 14, 2005
Robin Cook's Vector is a good thriller that held my attention to the end. I had a minor problem with noticeably hackneyed verbiage just one time. Telling most readers that orifice can be a malapropism for office detracted me from the author's craftsmanship. I had a major problem with Cook wanting me to believe that a single lab technician from Biopreparat's Sverdlovsk Compound 19 could produce both weaponized anthrax and botulinun toxin in quantity, in his basement, in a short time, all the while consuming prodigious amounts of vodka. It is not that easy. Many public documents, available to Cook and many readers, report Compound 19, and the connected Compound 32, employed close to 10,000 (15,000 people resided inside the two compounds). These scientists and technicians had help from institutes and universities throughout the Soviet Union. Cook's Yuri wasn't good enough to keep his job in this group. If fermenting anthrax using beer production methods could work, why didn't the Soviets (or Iraq, for that matter) just put a big fence around one of their many breweries? Cook could have made Yuri a lot more credible, and bio-weapons more real, with better research.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 22, 2005
An okay plot that is somewhat hampered by the story's predictability, somewhat wooden characters, and convenient coincidences. The writing is better than some other recent Cook thrillers, but still not as well crafted as some of his earliest works. Rather than forging new ground, this once again follows the latest headlines.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 9, 2004
Posted July 10, 2002
I'm a big SK fan but i decided to take a break and i read vector. It was awesome! It had an interesting plot and a good ending! Even if you dont enjoy reading get this book and you'll want to read books like crazy(trust me).Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 23, 2002
This was the best thriller I have ever read. Its a pity that this is not made into a movie. It would be good for moral because of 9/11. It does hit close to home, and it scared me to know how easy it is to grow anthrax in your basement. This novel seemed realistic and I think that everyone should read it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 20, 2002
I tried--really tried--to enjoy this book. I told myself I would focus on the premise and ignore the wooden characters, plot contrivances, loose ends, and ludicrous dialogue. I already knew that Robin Cook couldn't pass freshman comp. But thrillers don't thrill when you laugh out loud at the pathetic prose. Example: 'The man's expression changed from one of indignation to one of anger. His cheeks empurpled.' Doesn't anyone edit this turkey?Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 28, 2001
Incredible author. Dr. cook bravely touches on sensitive true issues such as the zionist-controlled America. also, he masters the art of thrilling. you will enjoy reading any of his many writings.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 2, 2000
This is one of Cook's better books. The graphic portrayl of the skinheads in the book and their overwillingness to kill was deeply unsettling. The possiblity of a bioweapons attack is so real and the ability to see how 'easy' one could happen is very scary. This book will defineately make you think the next time you get into a taxi cab or think about foreign relations!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 10, 2000
His writing about biological weapons is an incredible story. I found this book to be exciting from the begining. The thought that biowarfare could be a reality as he so mentioned in the book, makes the reading much more powerful. Great book to read!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 16, 2000
This book was cleverly written. I was amazed by the number of twists and turns in this book. All the words on every page are important to the story, though it might not be evident at the time. You'll find the doctors' social lives quite amusing (and yes, their social lives do get implemented in the main plot) Please do your self a favor and get this book. You'll kiss yourself for doing so.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 20, 2000
Posted May 28, 2000
I have read every single Robin Cook book and this one is one of my favorites. I stayed inside the entire day and finished it the day I started. For those of you who like medical thrillers, this one is captivating and realistic!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 24, 2000
ROBIN COOK IS MY FAVORITE AUTHOR. I LOVE HIS BOOKS BECAUSE HE GETS RIGHT TO THE POINT HE DOESNT WAITH 30 PAGES TO GET TO THE FIRST HUGE PART OF THE STORY. VECTOR IS A VERY GOOD BOOK IT TEACHES ABOUT PREDUDUCE AGAINTS OTHER PEOPLE. IT TELLS HOW BAD A GANG CAN GET. WHEN I READ IT I COULD HARDLY PUT IT DOWN IT WAS SO GOOD.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 8, 2000
Vector was the first Robin Cook Novel that I have ever read. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. usually it takes me a few weeks to read books. But this book was so good, I had it read in 4 days.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 20, 2000
Dr. Robin Cook uses his old characters from the New York ME Office in this good tale of bioweapons and a Radical Hate Group in New York. A great weaving of the interplay of both the antagonists and protagonists in this tale leading in the culmination of a deadly bioweapon release in a major US City. A must read for those interested in forensics and infections diseases or medical science drama.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.