Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Mortal Fear (novel)
The novel Mortal Fear by Robin Cook in 1988 deals with the issues of euthanasia and right-to-die issues. It seems especially poignant in light of the recent Terri Schiavo debacle, because the piece's villian espouses views that the elderly and incapacitated deserve to die in order to lighten the burden on the overtazed medcial system--quite contrary to the view of "do no harm" held by both the novel's main character and author.
Dr. Jason Howard is a resident surgeon at Massachusetts General. When a patient of his is admitted complaining of heart problems and later dies, Jason finds that, though having recieved a clean bill of health less than a month before, that the heart attack came totally out of left field and the patient looks decidedly older than he ought to at 56. Soon two more cases come to his attention, both healthy a month before, now dead, both looking older than their years.
Alvin Hayes, a former classmate of Jason's at Harvard, asks to speak to him about his recent strange caseload. Hayes is a shifty, twitchy man whose personal life is a subject of some question who seems unduly paranoid, and Jason wonders if the resident mad scientist has gotten into something illicit. At dinner Hayes, while talking about his genetic research on aging, suddenly begins vomiting blood violently. He dies a gory death right there in the restaurant. Jason begins to investigate the connection between the man's sudden demise, his nervous demeanor, and the patients in his hospital who have all been admitted with what seems to be a mutant strain of progeria that killed them in mere days.
Jason's search for the truth takes him to some interesting places, including a strip club, a school for the mentally handicapped, and a thrilling whitewater rafting trip in the Cascade Mountains...and to some interesting people as well, including Alvin's former lady friend, a dancer named Carol Donner, and a smooth Hispanic hired killer who had once been chasing the late GHP researcher and now is gunning for Dr. Howard....
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