Robin Cook is widely credited with introducing the word 'medical' to the thriller genre, and over 20 years after the publication of his breakthrough novel, Coma, he continues to dominate the category he created. Cook has successfully combined medical fact with fantasy to produce over 27 international bestsellers, including Outbreak (1987), Terminal (1993), Contagion (1996), Chromosome 6 (1997) and most recently Foreign Body (2008).
In this uneven medical thriller from bestseller Cook (Foreign Body), Dr. Jack Stapleton, a New York City forensic pathologist who lost his first wife and their two children in a plane crash, is devastated when his newborn son by his second wife is diagnosed with high-risk neuroblastoma. As a diversion from his efforts to find a cure for his son, Stapleton seeks to expose unscrupulous practitioners of alternative medicine. In particular, he investigates the death of a healthy woman whose vertebral arteries were damaged by a chiropractor. Then the plot swerves into Da Vinci Code territory as two of Stapleton's college friends-the archbishop of New York and an archeologist-battle over skeletal remains that may be those of the Virgin Mary. When the characters themselves comment on the events as something out of a horror movie or a book, suspension of disbelief becomes even more of a challenge (e.g., "He felt like he was a participant in a kind of unfolding real-life mystery-thriller"). (Aug.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Cook's 28th medical thriller (after Foreign Body) again features married medical examiners Jack Stapleton and Laurie Montgomery but focuses on Jack, as he and two old college buddies-one an archaeologist, the other the archbishop of New York-become entangled in an international intrigue with the potential to rock the foundations of Catholicism. The catalyst is an ossuary excavated from beneath St. Peter's Basilica that may contain the bones of the Virgin Mary. The mystery dominates the novel-which also veers into more emotional and medical terrain, as Jack's young son falls seriously ill. Verdict Despite an abundance of talk and a surprising absence of action, Cook's latest is compelling. Recommended for fans of medical and religious thrillers. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/09.]-A.J. Wright, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.