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THE PATIENT by Michael Palmer


by Michael Palmer

Pub Date: April 4th, 2000
ISBN: 0-553-10983-9
Publisher: Bantam

Another deathless medical woman-in-periler from Palmer (Critical Judgement, 1996, etc.), this time pitting a young, plucky

brain surgeon against an international terrorist who needs a life-saving operation only she can perform.

In her spare time, neurosurgical resident Jessie Copeland plays Tetris on a portable computer game device. But she hardly

gets a free moment at Eastern Massachusetts Medical Center, where she is part of team experimenting with a worm-sized robot

that can be sent into a patient's brain and remove tumors previously believed to be inoperable. Alas, the robot has a few bugs:

it's difficult to control and occasionally shuts down just when it shouldn't. Still, Copeland's gadget is the last hope for patients

from all walks of life, including a famous gymnast whom the pompous, publicity hungry Chief of Neurosurgery Carl Gilbride

saves with the robot after sending Copeland off to lecture to a bunch of medical technicians. This attracts the attention of the

debonair master-of-disguise Claude "the Mist" Melloche, a terrorist, who, we learn from dashing former CIA agent Alex

Bishop, has not only killed more than five hundred but, it seems, has one of those inoperable tumors and has already murdered

another famous neurosurgeon—simply because that doctor wouldn't agree to let Melloche's miscellaneous Middle Eastern thugs

hold his family hostage. This time, Melloche plants radio-controlled poison gas canisters throughout the hospital. If released,

the gas will kill thousands if the operation isn't performed, or if Melloche's recovery is less than perfect. Copeland decides that

she'll save more lives by saving the killer's but then finds herself kidnaped by the terrorist's goons, with Alex Bishop in hot


A hokey scenario that, propped up with realistic detail and scene-chewing characters, raises important ethical questions

about medical science, most of them blissfully ignored. This is not brain surgery.