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Capsule review for February 16, 2014

CELL. By Robin Cook. Putnam. 416 pages. $26.95.



Robin Cook has been entertaining medical thriller fans for decades, but he does much more with his latest novel, "Cell."

The story begins when a company gives prospective investors some exciting news: It has a smartphone app called iDoc that could replace primary-care physicians.

With iDoc, if a patient has a sore throat, all he has to do is put his saliva on his phone's touch screen. The app will analyze it, make a diagnosis and even send a prescription to the pharmacy.

The app is in the final stage of testing, and participants in the program love it. The government is even considering iDoc for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

Then several of iDoc's patients die.

George Wilson, a radiology resident at a Los Angeles medical center, wants to find out what's wrong. His fiancee is among the dead.

The young doctor is no hero. He's confused, naive and worried that he may be entering the medical profession when it has passed its zenith. His vulnerability makes the drama of "Cell" all the more compelling. Cook has written a thought-provoking story.

Reviewer Waka Tsunoda writes for the Associated Press.

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