The book starts by telling about the problems occurring in the hospital where Michael works. Too many patients are dying of causes that would not normally kill them. When Michael watches a little girl's life slip away despite the best that modern medicine can deliver, he becomes depressed about his choice of careers. Across town, a popular and prominent Congressman dies - his skull shattered by a shotgun, but police investigators determine the death to be a suicide.
Despite what they say, the Congressman's beautiful young daughter, Shannon Donnelly, stubbornly refuses to believe that her father took his own life. In a twist of events, Michael becomes the top contender for the dead Congressman's seat. Jonathan Waverly, a billionaire who wants to organize a group of national politicians to back his dream of a nationwide chain of medical research centers, feels that Michael is the perfect man for the political job. However, before Michael agrees to the job, he takes a tour of the Waverly Research Center, but he only sees one building.
In the building, he sees various robots, machines, and great technological advances. He sees some of the most amazing things and hears some amazing ideas that Waverly has for the medical field. The most unique thing he sees is a mannequin. It was the most realistic one he had ever seen. In fact, he thinks that it is a real man. At first he thinks this is strange, but Waverly quickly explains that it was made for an amusement park ride and Michael thinks nothing of it again.
The other building contains mental patients, and other experimental medical instruments and techniques. After some bribing, and offers of a lifetime, Michael agrees to run for the Congressman's seat. After Shannon meets Michael as he is paying his condolences at her house, she is angered with him and vows to find who murdered her father. She begins to check her mother's house, which was where her father' body was found, for clues.
She pieces together clues from the house, as well as phone records from her father's work in Washington, DC. The small clues point to the Waverly Research Center, which Michael is now affiliated with, and the hospital at which he works. At Shannon's father's funeral, she befriends Michael in a desperate attempt to find her father's murderer. They become friends and slowly find out unexpected things.
As they try their hardest to find her father's murderer, they uncover a diabolical conspiracy. It starts at the hospital where a nurse working under Waverly injects patients with medicine that would temporarily stop their heart and breathing, thus making them appear dead. Then after being taken to the morgue, one of Waverly's confidants switches a mannequin with the real body and takes the real body to the Research Center before they awaken. At the research center, Waverly works on finding a way to stop the aging process as it was killing him fast.
After years of research on spinal regeneration, and organ transplants, Waverly is ready to put his head on someone else's body. Set on achieving his goal, he kills everyone that tries to get in his way, including Shannon's father, a worker at his Research Center, many innocent people from the hospital, as well as his own mentally ill son. Shannon and Michael discover that a lot of people have been replaced with mannequins, so they go to the Research Center. As they break in, they discover three patients that supposedly died strapped to tables in the back.
After a long tussle with Waverly and all of his partners at the Research Center, Shannon, Michael, and three other patients that had been stolen from the hospital come out on top. Waverly is killed in the fight, and all of his workers.