The Policy

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Actuary Alex Tynan, who likes to play with statistics on her computer, accidentally discovers that some of ProvLife’s figures have been faked. When she brings these irregularities to the attention of her superiors, she unwittingly puts her life in danger. She gradually realizes that numerous department heads are conspiring to defraud the company through a grossly illegal scheme to identify and reject applicants with genetic abnormalities that make them poor risks. ProvLife’s swelling profits vastly exceed the industry average. The conspirators’ biggest problem is too much money. They have to skim hundreds of millions out of their treasury by making huge payments to fictitious claimants.

Alex discovers that her handsome young lover Mark Ferulli, recently made head of ProLife’s treasury department, has been lured into the criminal network. The only person she can trust, a senior executive named Randal White (who ultimately takes her to bed in his secluded mansion), is mastermind of the conspiracy. Several people are silenced by murder, their deaths staged to look like accidents. Alex nearly dies when forced to defend herself in a shootout involving four men driven by greed and fear.

This is Patrick Lynch’s third novel in the phenomenally popular medical thriller category. His OMEGA (1997) and CARRIERS (1995) were both best-sellers. THE POLICY is moderately gripping, puts an intriguing new spin on an old genre, and presents a graphic tour of America’s smallest state. It suffers, however, from having too many middle-aged male characters who are only names without faces.