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True crime books and financial nonfiction, like "Den of Thieves," were hot in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Now, financial thrillers are enjoying a bit of a boom.

But the buzz these days in publishing is about the resurgence of another genre, the medical thriller.Taking cues from the hit TV series "E.R." and "Chicago Hope" as well as a rash of plague and virus books, agents and publishers are grabbing onto the fascination with doctors, twisting it and putting out books about devilish doctors, nasty nurses and hopeless operations.

"Everyone is looking for `The Firm' goes to medical school," said one publisher.

Recent attempts to develop a medical-thriller blockbuster foundered. But a couple of new books are now making some best-seller lists.

In one of them, "The Fourth Procedure" by Stanley Pottinger, a New York congressman and an organ transplant doctor get tangled in attempts to transplant a woman's reproductive organs. And in another, Michael Palmer's "Silent Treatment," a murderous surgeon stalks the wards.

"In our ads, we're calling it `scalpel-edged suspense,' " said Stuart Applebaum, a spokesman for Bantam. "It sounds corny, but you'd be surprised how effective this approach is."

- Mary B.W. Tabor