MINDBEND by Robin Cook
Kirkus Star

MINDBEND

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Adam Schonberg, the hero of Cook's latest (and silliest) medico-thriller, is a N.Y. medical student, supported by wife Jennifer's dancing career--until Jennifer gets accidentally pregnant. What to do? Well, abortion is repugnant to both husband and wife; so Adam decides (not very plausibly) that he has to quit reed school and get a job--with Arolen Pharmaceuticals in New Jersey. Soon, however, trainee Adam is becoming more and more suspicious about the big, slick Arolen company: its salesmen have computerized personal data on all the potential doctor-customers in the N.Y. area; Arolen treats its M.D. customers to lavish ""educational"" cruises; the company is doing research on psychotropic drugs and fetology. And, meanwhile, pregnant wife Jennifer has become a patient at the ""weird"" Julian Clinic--where everyone speaks in a creepy ""flat voice,"" where one of the docs has just committed suicide, and where Jennifer's obstetrician (recently returned from a cruise!) has suddenly started prescribing an iffy anti-morning-sickness drug. . . manufactured by Arolen!! Could all these ""strange coincidences"" be connected? Could the Julian Clinic have an ulterior motive for mis-diagnosing Jennifer's unborn fetus (via amniocentesis) as severely abnormal? Could Arolen and the Julian be linked in a fiendish conspiracy to manipulate the medical profession and--via unnecessary abortions--generate a steady supply of fetal tissue for experimentation Of course, of course. So Adam sets out to get the goods on the Arolen conspiracy: he joins one of those doctor-cruises, witnessing the drugs-and-electrodes brainwashing of gullible docs; he uses a court order to rescue Jennifer from abortion. And, after sneaking into the Puerto Rico hospital where doctor-victims are getting assembly-line lobotomies, Adam brings vivid evidence of the Arolen horror to the top doc at the FDA. . . who just happens to be his estranged father. Cook's writing, never quite professional, is downright amateurish this time--with cloddish dialogue and comic-book inanities. Adam and Jennifer are a plastic, vacant duo, untouched by common sense or lifelike behavior. But, more important, this cartoon portrayal of drug-company menace lacks the scary glimmers of medical quasi-authenticity found in Cook's better novels--especially when compared to Arthur Hailey's reasonably convincing, effectively disturbing Strong Medicine (1984).

Pub Date: March 20th, 1985
ISBN: 1101209011
Publisher: Putnam