By Larry Karp
Poisoned Pen Press, $24.95, 274 pages

A Perilous Conception by Larry Karp takes readers back in time for a modern-day medical mystery. Set in the late 70s, Dr. Colin Sanford and Dr. Giselle Hearn team up to conduct clandestine research for in-vitro fertilization. With a thriving practice and an eager infertile couple, they attempt to create the first baby born from the in-vitro fertilization process before any other medical personnel can. There’s a lot at stake if they succeed; money, fame but even more if they fail or reveal what they are doing too early especially as those that are opposed to the procedure can shut them down. Shocking everyone, Dr. Hearn is murdered. The husband and new father of the soon-to-be famous child killed her and then turned the gun on himself. Only Detective Bernie Baumgartner smells a rat.

Author Larry Karp weaves a tight, intelligent tale with fast-paced writing including baubles of rousing side stories that keep the reader engaged and guessing at who, what, where, when and why. Each of the characters disappointingly fall into the stereotypical role of their gender, lacking plausibility and depth, but the tale itself, and the medical history and procedural accuracies make this a good read that you really can’t put down until the end.

M. Chris Johnson