Coben ( Play Dead ) adroitly applies the fundamental rules of thrillerdom (offer a raft of potential villains; keep the action moving at breakneck speed) in this highly entertaining novel about a conspiracy apparently designed to prevent the development of a cure for AIDS. When one of a trio of research scientists on the brink of coming up with an AIDS antidote dies, it looks like suicide, but TV journalist Sara Lowell and her husband, NBA star Michael Silverman, who are friends of the clinic's founder, think otherwise. Their suspicions are confirmed when several clinic patients, including the son of a U.S. senator, are murdered. A televangelist with his own agenda, Sara's prominent physician father, and a high-ranking government official all seem intent upon derailing the AIDS research, a situation that becomes most personal when Michael is diagnosed with the disease. Police lieutenant "Twitch" Bernstein, a closet homosexual, ultimately comes face-to-face with the person responsible for the killings. The final revelation of the identity of the master conspirator comes as a real surprise. This page-turner also raises some interesting questions about medical research and its funding.