It’d been a very long time since I’d read a book by Robin Cook. I have a vague inkling that I read much of his work at the same time I read Stephen King and inhaled a never-ending supply of spy and espionage books by Robert Ludlum, David Morrell, John LeCarre et al. You know… WAY back in the 1990s.
However… I struggled a little with Cook’s latest—Host—probably for the very reasons I once enjoyed his work.
Lynn Pierce, a fourth-year medical student at Mason Dixon University, thinks she has her life figured out. But when her otherwise healthy boyfriend, Carl, enters the hospital for routine surgery, she doesn’t know it’s the last time she will see him whole again.
Devastated by Carl’s death, Lynn searches for answers. Convinced there’s more to the story than what the authorities are willing to reveal, Lynn uses all her resources at Mason Dixon-including her initially reluctant lab partner, Edward-to hunt down evidence of medical error or malpractice.
What she uncovers, however, is far more disturbing. Hospitals associated with Sentinel Healthcare, including the one attached to Mason Dixon, have unnervingly high rates of unexplained anaesthetic complications and patients contracting serious and terminal illness in the wake of routine surgery.
When Lynn and Edward begin to receive death threats, they know they’re into something bigger than either of them anticipated. They soon enter a desperate race against time for answers before shadowy forces behind Sentinel Healthcare can put a stop to their efforts once and for all.
In short… I’m sorry Robin. It’s not you, it’s me!
My main problem with this book is that… I had to think too much. Not in an over-analysing way, which I quite enjoy, though suck at. (Big time!) Rather I had to focus because a HUGE amount of detail came my way and I struggled with the question of whether I needed to take it all in. Cook’s own medical background is at the heart of his work and I wouldn’t be surprised if medically/scientifically trained peeps read his books and find themselves nodding furiously. Though for me there was a bit too much detail. #informationoverload
I’m also not a conspiracy theory fan so struggled once the book drifted into that direction. I think I’ve lost interest in espionage type books for the same reason. I need to understand my baddie. I don’t want them to be some business conglomerate, pharmaceutical company or government agency. I want them to be a psychopathic killer with mother issues. Or similar.
Despite all of that I kept reading Host because I came to care for our two lead characters. Lynn and Edward, who have their lives ahead of them and hope to achieve great things. The threats they face are two-fold… firstly the very obvious threat of death; but also the ‘powers that be’ are able to destroy them professionally.
The book’s well written and paced and exceedingly believable. It includes A LOT of seemingly-feasible technical information… if that’s your kind of thing.
As I said… my struggle with this book was more about me than the book itself. Lovers of suspense or medical / scientific thrillers (and conspiracy theories) will adore this novel.
Host by Robin Cook will be released in Australia by Pan Macmillan on 27 October 2015.