For The Associated Press

Death Benefit
By Robin Cook
G.P. Putnam’s Sons

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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