Off the Shelf

"Chromosome 6"

By Marcus Pan

Chromosome 6Latest reading completion was a medical thriller by Robin Cook called "Chromosome 6." Since I enjoyed the film "Outbreak," Wowah picked it up for me one Christmas season. I enjoyed the novel more than I expected to. This was, after all, my first medical thriller. Robin Cook, being a doctor, made good work of details and facts around which to wrap a well written thriller.

Kevin Marshall, a genetic scientist hired by corporation GenSys to work on a special project in Africa, has found a way to isolate the short arm of chromosome 6 that is discovered to hold most of the histocombatibility complex. Utilizing this he develops a way to genetically alter the chromosomes of other animals so that their genetic make-up is fully compatible with human test subjects. Not a clone, but a creature with the exact same blood type, exact same organ and internal composition. He perfects it to a point that organs can be transplanted from these animals into their human counterparts with virtually NO rejection in the human body. Imagine that for a second…no matter what organ fails in your body you can have a new one that is exactly compatible to your own and requires no anti-rejection therapy of any form. Like changing a lightbulb. GenSys finds a profitable market for this venture…but is this ethical? Eventually, Kevin begins to worry about his "creations" as he calls them. Using a form of ape, the bonobo, they are beginning to show signs of human behavior; utilizing tools, fire, and forming a pecking order similar to proto-human races. Even rudimentary oral communication allowing these creatures to create a form of society. Has Kevin made a Promethean mistake? Do the genes on the short arm of chromosome 6 contain ONLY the body's histocompatibility complex for organs and internal parts, or does it contain something more…like proto-intellectual or near-human make-up? Has Kevin created a new race? If this is much too scientific for you to understand, I'm sorry…it's the only way I could make it have some form of sense.

Meanwhile, in New York City a mobster is gunned down. After his body disappears from a city morgue, is chased around, eventually found and then autopsied, medical examiner Jack Stapleton discovers evidence of a transplanted organ. But there are no signs of immunization of anti-rejection therapy drugs to support this. A wild chase ensues that drags Jack and his co-worker/girlfriend, Laurie Montgomery, into a web of mafioso crime rings where it is found that anyone with the money can have whatever spare body parts they require…who needs a transplant waiting list when you got the cash? Jack and Laurie along with their friends find themselves in Africa staking out an arm of the GenSys corporation to discover the genetic game playing that has been perfected, and utilized unethically, halfway around the globe.

Chromosome 6 is not the best book I have read, nor is it the worst. It is somewhere in the upper half of good books that I've delved into, however. The ending of the novel left much to be desired…too many strings left hanging. I would have liked to know what GenSys might have faced at the hands of the law and/or ethical world committees or the like, but this was never taken further. That's my major complaint, but it was still worth the read. The story flows fairly well and isn't difficult to read regardless of the highly scientific nature of the story. Hardcore readers will get through it quickly.

Not being one to re-read many books, as there are plenty out there that I haven't read that I'd like to get around to, I'm offering this hard cover semi-used copy of Robin Cook's "Chromosome 6" to the first person to e-mail me their mailing addy. If you like medical thrillers, especially genetic studies supported by excellent research and written by a real doctor, then chances are you'll quite enjoy Chromosome 6 as I did. But before I send it…there is a catch. Of course this is free and I don't expect any monetary return, but you must read it. And when you're done, you can't throw it out. Give it to someone else you think will enjoy it, or keep it on your book shelf. Good books should never be thrown out. That's the only stipulation. Anyone interested?

"Chromosome 6" by Robin Cook
The author of: "Coma," "Fever," "Brain," "Sphinx," "Fatal Cure" and many more novels.
Published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, USA, New York.
Copyright © 1997 by Robin Cook.
ISBN 0-399-14207-X

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