Holden Scott The Carrier

ISBN 13: 9780312205836

The Carrier

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9780312205836: The Carrier
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A brilliant Harvard Ph.D. candidate discovers a cure for cancer-a discovery that pits him against his mentor and the FBI in a cross-country race against time.

Jack Collier is a brilliant but troubled Ph.D. candidate at Harvard-the kid from the wrong side of the tracks. But he has an idea that will make medical history: train Strep A bacteria (also known as flesh-eating bacteria) to attack tumors rather than healthy flesh. When his mentor, a reknowned professor, steals Jack's idea and sets him up to get expelled from Harvard, Jack is nearly destroyed. And something has gone wrong with the cure. As Jack travels across the country, he unknowingly leaves a wake of death in his tracks. A sympathetic FBI agent wants to find Jack and stop him-before those that want to see his genius silenced find him first. Filled with groundbreaking medical and scientific details, Holden Scott's latest thriller is his most fascinating and imaginative yet.

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Review:

One might wonder what thriller authors occupied themselves with before the onslaught of biotechnology: gene splicing, smart viruses, cloning techniques, and PCR-polymerase chain reactions are the current darlings of a host of writers, including Gary Braver (Elixir), Richard Preston (The Hot Zone), and Holden Scott (Skeptic). In Scott's second novel, The Carrier, Jack Collier, a Harvard Ph.D. candidate, has found a cure for cancer by engineering Streptococcus A bacteria--known to tabloid newspaper fans everywhere as flesh-eating bacteria--to recognize and attack tumors rather than healthy flesh. It's a personal victory as well as a scientific breakthrough: haunted for months by the knowledge that his girlfriend, Angie, is dying of ovarian cancer, Jack has labored endless hours in the hopes of saving her.

But altruism is a rare bird in academic circles, and Michael Dutton, Jack's adviser, steals his idea, sets him up to be expelled, and nearly destroys the young man. Desperate to reach Angie, Jack breaks into his own lab, stows his petri dishes in his backpack, and takes off on a cross-country race against time. He doesn't know that something has gone terribly wrong with the cure, and that he is leaving a trail of death behind him. With two FBI agents--one a sympathetic scientist (who, perhaps too neatly, is a breast-cancer survivor) and one a militant psychopath (intent not just on finding Jack, but on killing him)--in hot pursuit, Jack's journey is one of narrow escapes and personal redemption.

Scott spins a mean story; though his characters and prose are occasionally stiff, there's no denying his ability to make us keep turning pages. The keen irony of Jack's predicament--technology has made him both a savior and a killer--is well crafted, and Scott refrains from belaboring the point. One might wish for a bit more "science" in this biotech thriller; the moments when Jack is in the lab are by far the most interesting, but they don't come often enough. With luck, the author's next scientific foray will rely more on the nitty-gritty, the test tubes and the electron microscopes. --Kelly Flynn

About the Author:

Holden Scott is the thirty-year-old author of Skeptics and The Carrier. He lives in Boston.

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