Poisoned Pen Press, 2011, 263 Pages
ISBN No. 978-1590589731
Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid
In vitro fertilization is a common occurrence now but in 1975, the subject was very controversial. Dr. Colin Sanford, an obstetrician in Emerald, Washington, is determined to be the first doctor to produce a baby by this method. He has recruited Dr. Giselle Hearn, a laboratory geneticist-embryologist to work with him. Because of Hearn’s department chair, their work must remain a secret. Joyce Kennett, a patient of Dr. Sanford, is determined to have a baby. With the help of Sanford and Hearn, Kennett gives birth to a healthy baby boy.
Dr. Sanford has assured Kennett that when he is in a position to make a public announcement about the baby’s birth, there will be no end to the publicity and Kennett will gain financially through the publicity.
However, before any announcement can be made, James Kennett, Joyce’s husband and the baby’s father, goes on a shooting spree, kills Dr. Hearn, and then kills himself. This is where Detective Ernie Baumgartner steps in and determines to discover what motivated James Kennett to murder a doctor and then commit suicide.
The reader hears the story from the viewpoint of Dr. Colin Sanford as well as from the viewpoint of Detective Baumgartner. Detective Baumgartner’s superiors keep pressing him to close the case since they feel it is obvious that James Kennett is simply a man who suffered a mental breakdown but the Baumgarnter is sure there is much, much more to the story. Not only risking the wrath of his superiors Baumgarnter neglects his wife to the point where she leaves him and he has to beg a place to sleep from an old acquaintance.
Larry Karp, in my opinion, has written an outstanding and intriguing book. A Perilous Conception is a mystery I am very glad I read and would recommend the book as an exciting read. The conclusion is a surprising and satisfying end to this excellent book.