March 18, 2002 12:00 PM

By John Lescroart

Page-turner of the week

The head of San Francisco’s largest HMO has just been murdered in his own hospital by lethal injection. The attending physician had motive and opportunity, but he isn’t the killer. It’s up to hard-charging defense lawyer Dismas Hardy to stitch together a trail of dead bodies at the troubled HMO, which is known more for cost-cutting than care. To solve the case and clear his client, Hardy has to decide if patients are dying because of bad luck, bad medicine or big business.

Lescroart’s medical murder mystery hits ER intensity. Though it needs a nip and tuck on a few subplots, this is a terrific crime story that lets the scary hobgoblins of HMO-run health care come out to dance. (Dutton, $25.95)

Bottom Line: Fills your suspense Rx

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