Fatal Care

Fatal Care

by Leonard Goldberg

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Fatal Care by Leonard Goldberg

With "fascinating forensics and insider insights," (People), Leonard Goldberg and his heroine, forensic pathologist Joanna Blalock, have thrilled fans of medical suspense with the latest technologies...and newest terrors.

In this brand-new paperback original, Joanna follows a trail of unexplained deaths to a biogenetic laboratory-where scientists are making unprecedented leaps in gene therapy...at the cost of human life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451205292
Publisher: Signet
Publication date: 11/01/2001
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 4.38(w) x 6.74(h) x 1.14(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The men in the bar suddenly went silent. Nobody moved or shifted about. They just stared at the woman who had walked in.

    She was tall and blond and attractive and in her early thirties at the most. Her clothes were expensive—faded jeans, blue blazer with a white turtleneck sweater beneath it. She looked like real money. The men followed her with their eyes, all wondering who she was and what she was doing in a seedy bar on the south side of Santa Monica.

    Was she a hooker? Naw, most of the men decided. No one in Sully's could afford her type.

    A boozer? Probably not. At least she didn't have the appearance of one.

    A housewife cheating on her husband, waiting for The guy she was screwing on the side? Maybe.

    The men were talking in low voices, but they kept their ears turned to the bar, listening for the woman's order.

    "A glass of white wine," she said softly.

    The men nodded and smiled to each other. She was passing time while she waited for someone. The customers went back to their loud conversation and to their shots of whiskey with beer chasers.

    Sara Ann Moore sipped the cheap wine and studied herself in the mirror behind the bar. Her blond wig was a really good one. It looked so natural, particularly with the loose strands that fell across her forehead. She brushed at the strands with her fingers and gave the impression to anyone still watching her that she was primping. But her eyes were slowly scanning the room, measuring each of the customers.Most were middle-aged construction workers, still wearing their hard hats. There were a sprinkling of deliverymen in their uniforms and a few overweight postal workers. At the end of the bar were two old men hunched over their drinks, and next to them an old woman with caked-on makeup trying to hide her wrinkles.

    And standing next to the old woman was a tall, muscular man with jet-black hair that was beginning to show some gray. On his forearm there was a prominent tattoo of an ornate cross.

    Sara wetted her lips and, picking up her wineglass, moved down the bar and approached the man. "Can I buy you a drink?" she asked.

    The man stared at her for a moment as he tried to size her up. "Sure. Why not?"

    "What are you drinking?"

    "Vodka," he said, his Russian accent obvious.

    Sara signaled to the bartender for another round, pointing to the man's shot glass.

    The men in the bar lowered their voices once more as they watched the woman make her move. They all realized they had misjudged her. She wasn't waiting for a man, she was looking for one. She wanted to get laid and had picked the Russian. The crazy goddamn Russian.

    "He's drinking doubles, lady," the bartender announced.

    "Then pour doubles," Sara said.

    The Russian gulped down the vodka like it was water. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

    "What's your name?" Sara asked.

    "Vladimir," Vladimir Belov said, and then stuck his tongue inside the shot glass to lick out the last few drops of vodka. "What do you want?"

    "Some company."

    The old woman wearing too much makeup cackled loudly. "Are you two going to be lovebirds?"

    "Shut up!" Vladimir snapped.

    The old woman cackled again and reached for the shoe box on the bar stool beside the Russian. "Why don't you give her a little present? I bet she'd like that. Give her the shoes you're always carrying around." She picked up the lid of the box, but had to drop it when Vladimir grabbed her wrist and squeezed it.


    "You touch my box again and I'll break your goddamn hand," Vladimir growled.

    "I was only fooling around," the old woman complained, rubbing the soreness from her wrist.

    "Fool around with somebody else," Vladimir said stonily, and turned back to Sara. "You said you wanted some company."

    Sara licked her lips. "You're kind of rough, aren't you?"

    Vladimir shrugged, then signaled to the bartender for another vodka.

    "I like it rough," Sara said, her voice low and husky.

    "It's going to cost you a hundred dollars," Vladimir said matter-of-factly.

    Sara recoiled. "I'm not accustomed to paying for it. I won't do that."

    "Then find somebody else."

    Sara reconsidered, tapping her finger nervously on the bar. "All I've got is seventy-five in cash."

    "All right," Vladimir agreed. "But it'll be a hundred and twenty-five next time."

    "What makes you so sure there'll be a next time?"

    "When you do it with a man, how many times you come?"

    Sara hesitated, blushing. "Only once."

    Vladimir smiled crookedly. "There'll be a next time."

    The bartender put down the double vodka and glanced at Sara's nearly full wineglass before walking away.

    Vladimir sipped his vodka slowly, calculating numbers in his head. He was making five hundred dollars a week with his burial work, and he would soon be taking in another hundred a week screwing the blond woman. He had ten thousand in the bank and needed to reach the twelve-thousand mark. That's how much it would cost to bring his mother and brother from Siberia to America and get them their green cards. Just two thousand dollars more, and he would have them away from that Siberian shithole, where the electricity could be turned off for days on end, where people still chopped down trees for wood to cook with and give them heat, where the roads were unpaved because there were no cars, where people who died in the winter had to wait until spring to be buried because the ground was frozen stiff. Two thousand dollars more, and his family would be together again.

    He quickly downed the vodka. "Let's go."

    "Wait a minute," Sara said hastily, keeping her voice down. "I don't want people in here to know I picked you up."

    Vladimir groaned to himself. Americans and their goddamn morals. "I think they already know."

    Sara ignored the remark. "Why don't you leave first?"

    Vladimir nodded. "Good. I have to make a delivery a few blocks away, anyhow."

    "When you come back I'll be in my car across the street."

    "What kind of car?"

    "A Mercedes coupe."

    Shit! Vladimir cursed himself, now regretting he hadn't asked for $250 to screw her. Maybe he could raise the price later. He pushed himself away from the bar and picked up his shoe box, then said loudly, "I have had enough. Good night to everyone." For effect, he feigned a stagger as he walked to the door.

    "Where's the phone?" Sara asked the bartender, already knowing it was next to the door by the window that looked out onto Lincoln Boulevard.

    The bartender pointed. "By the front door."

    Sara hurried to the pay phone, where she inserted coins and punched in numbers, all the while watching Vladimir through the window. He crossed the street and headed north.

    The recorded message on the phone instructed Sara to deposit more money for her call. She pretended to have a brief conversation and then hung up, making believe she was angry. Sara gave the bartender a twenty-dollar bill and left.

    She spotted the Russian a half block ahead on the opposite side of the boulevard. Traffic was light at 9:30 P.M., and there was no one strolling the sidewalks. The Russian was moving faster now, and she picked up her pace, not wanting to lose sight of him. At the corner was a large, all-night mini mart service station. The Russian went inside.

    Sara stopped abruptly and stayed in the shadows and waited. And waited. Whatever the hell the Russian was doing in the mini mart, he was taking his time. Sara didn't like the position she found herself in. The neighborhood was tough, with Mexican gang markings everywhere. And the side streets were known for drive-by drug deals. The last thing she wanted was to be confronted by some wise-ass punk or by a strung-out addict looking to make an easy score. A car went by with its sound system so loud it caused the sidewalk to vibrate. Its occupants had shaved heads and tattoos and looked like gangbangers. Sara moved back deeper into the shadows.

    The Russian came out of the mini mart munching on a candy bar. The shoe box was still under his arm. He glanced around and then hurried down the side street that bordered the service station.

    Sara crossed the boulevard and quickly moved into the side street. She closed the distance between herself and the Russian, but still stayed twenty yards back. The lighting on the side street was dim and growing dimmer. She could barely see the Russian. Then she heard a loud noise that sounded like wood cracking and splintering. Then the cracking sound came again. Cautiously Sara moved in for a closer look.

    The Russian was kicking through a wooden fence that surrounded a huge construction site. He gave it one final kick and opened a hole in the fence large enough for a man to walk through. "There!" he said, satisfied.

    The Russian placed the shoe box on the ground and quickly cleared away the splintered wood. Then he bent down for the shoe box.

    Sara reached into her oversize Gucci bag and took out a semiautomatic pistol. Quickly she attached a silencer.

    "Just leave it there," she said evenly.

    Vladimir jerked his head up, seeing the blonde from the bar. "What the hell are you doing here?"

    "A job," she said calmly.

    Sara assumed the firing position, knees bent, arms straight out, both hands on the pistol. She squeezed off two shots. Both went into Vladimir's forehead, blowing the top of his skull off. He fell sideways into the gaping hole in the fence. Only his legs could be seen.

    Sara hurriedly removed his watch and emptied his pockets, taking cash, change, and wallet. Then she pushed the Russian's legs through the fence. Vladimir Belov's body tumbled down into the six-story excavation site.

    Carefully Sara picked up the shoe box and opened it. She removed a clear glass bottle filled with fluid. Floating in it was a very small but well-developed human fetus.

    Sara inspected the bottle, making sure it was intact. Then she placed it in her Gucci bag and walked away.

Excerpted from FATAL CARE by Leonard Goldberg. Copyright © 2001 by Leonard S. Goldberg. 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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Fatal Care 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like medical thrillers along with police and forensic work, you will love this book. I have always loved the work of Patricia Caldwell, but I think Leonard Goldberg have surpassed her. Glenda
harstan More than 1 year ago
Memorial Medical Center in Greater Los Angeles is the base of operations for world-renowned forensic pathologist Joanna Blalock. Together with her significant other, police officer Jake Sinclair, she logs in more work hours in a week than most people put in a month. Right now both are working on cases that overlap which means they are spending even more time together.

The duo concludes that a female assassin has killed at least three people in the area. One of the victims was a Russian immigrant who had buried ten perfectly preserved fetuses without organs in a vacant lot. The second deceased was a venture capitalist funding a bioengineering complex. The third dead person is a geneticist who worked at the bioengineering company funded by the second victim. If the intrepid pair can find the link tying the trio together they might track down the lethal hellion and her patrons ordering the hits.

Leonard Goldberg provides readers with a full look into the good, the bad, and the ugly world of genetics with his top rate medical thriller FATAL CARE. The story line is on a par with the best of Cornwell and Palmer. The dynamic investigators make quite a team and the killer is a driven professional. All this leads to a fast clip at the start and continues at a record that fast pace that never slows down until the end.

Harriet Klausner