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Syndrome by Thomas Hoover
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medical thriller

Genre/Category: Thriller, Women's Fiction
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Syndrome by Thomas Hoover
Synopsis

In New York’s Soho, Alexa Hampton runs her own interior design firm. But a heart problem now threatens her life. Her younger brother, the black-sheep of the family, insists she go to a New Jersey clinic run by his eccentric boss who specialises in stem cell experiments. While there she and her ex-lover, a medical reporter, uncover a bizarre experiment aimed at reversing the ageing process.

Excerpt:

They were promised a miracle cure for the deadly diseases destroying their lives. It seemed too good to be true, but to the desperate and dying it was the only chance for survival. Now they’re part of a bizarre secret experiment that reverses the aging process – an experiment gone out of control. To stop the madness, one woman must enter a shocking nightmare world, where scientists control your body – and your mind – and living makes you beg for death . . .

In her mid-thirties, Alexa Hampton runs her own interior design firm in New York’s Soho and has a daily run to keep fit. But now her world is narrowing as a childhood heart mishap increasingly threatens to lethally impact her life. Then out of nowhere her black-sheep younger brother appears and insists she go to a clinic in New Jersey to enter stem-cell clinical trials that are working wonders. The clinic is owned by her brother’s boss, the eccentric millionaire Winston Bartlett.

Also interested in the clinic is the medical reporter Stone Aimes, who’s hoping to penetrate Bartlett’s veil of secrecy and find out what’s going on there. He has personal as well as professional reasons for wanting to get closer to Winston Bartlett. He is also a long-ago lover of Alexa’s and still carrying something of a torch for her though they have long been out of touch.

As Alexa investigates the clinic, their paths cross and together they slowly uncover the horrifying truth about what can happen when stem-cell technology is taken to its ultimate limit. A bizarre secret experiment to reverse the aging process has gone out of control. Winston Bartlett’s young mistress, the TV personality Kristen Starr, had an anti-aging procedure that went awry and now all her cells are being replaced with new. The side effects are horrific. No one can stop what is happening: she is growing younger, destined to become a child again. Bartlett has had the same procedure and now he knows he’s next. It’s only a matter of time till he too regresses to childhood, and then . . . no one knows.

Alexa and Stone become prisoners in the clinic and then Bartlett and his Dutch medical researcher Karl van der Vliet begin a bizarre experiment on Alexa, hoping to produce antibodies to save Kristen, and Bartlett. In a stunning, blazing finale, Alexa turns the tables on them all, only to discover that she’s now, suddenly unlike anyone else who has ever lived.

* * *

Sunday, April 5

6:49 A.M.

Alexa Hampton was awakened by a sensation in her chest.

The alarm wasn't set to go off for another eleven minutes, but she knew her sleep was finished.

Not again! She rolled over and slapped the blue pillowcase. That little sound from her heart and the twinges of angina,

that catchall for heart discomfort, was happening more and more now, just as Dr. Ekelman had warned her. But she wasn't going to let it stop her from living her life to the fullest as long as she could, and right now that meant having her morning run.

She curled her legs around, onto the floor, reached for a nitroglycerin tab, and slipped it under her tongue. Known as a vasodilator, the nitro lowered the workload on her heart by expanding her veins. It should get her through the workout ....

That was when she felt a warm presence rub against her leg. "Hi, baby." Still sucking on the tab, she reached over and

tousled Knickers' gray-and-white hair, then pushed it back from her dog's eyes. Her Old English sheepdog, a huge hirsute off- road vehicle, turned and licked her hand. Knickers was ready to hit the trail.

She'd been dreaming of Steve when the chest tightness came, and maybe the emotion that stirred up had caused the angina. She still dreamed of him often, and it was always someplace where they had been together and loved, and they were ever on the brink of some disaster. That frequently caused her heart to race, waking her.

This time it was the vacation they took six years ago, in the spring. They were sailing off Norman's Cay in the Bahamas. She was raising the jib, the salt spray in her hair, but then she looked up and realized they were about to ram a reef.