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'Death Benefit' slow-paced but worthwhile

JEFF AYERS The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 03:38 PM

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"Death Benefit" (G.P. Putnam's Sons), by Robin Cook

Robin Cook's "Death Benefit" is a slow-paced but ultimately rewarding reading experience.

Pia Grazdani is a medical student at Columbia University Medical Center. Her colleague George Wilson idolizes her every move, but Pia is focused on her studies. She carries a lot of mental baggage, and sees working with Dr. Tobias Rothman, who is researching the growth of organs with a new stem cell process, as the key to finding peace and happiness.

Meanwhile, two men have created a company that buys life-insurance policies from the elderly and sick for a fraction of their worth. They stand to make a financial killing when the insured dies. They learn of Rothman's research and realize that if his process succeeds, they will default on billions of dollars.

Stem-cell research for replacement organs for the critically ill is fascinating. Add using life-insurance policies as a way to make money and the result is an intense read that raises thought-provoking questions.

The beginning of "Death Benefit" is a bit hard to get through, but digging through the first 100 pages proves worthwhile in the end.

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