Four decades after rocketing up the bestseller lists with his debut, Coma, Cook (Host, 2015, etc.) shows he hasn’t lost a microgram of his ability to scare the hospital gown off a prospective patient.
Dr. Noah Rothauser is new chief surgery resident at the prestigious teaching hospital Boston Memorial. He quickly finds himself leading an inquiry into three operating-theater deaths involving Dr. Ava London, BMH’s star anesthesiologist. London has handled thousands of cases without injury: now there have been three accidental deaths in a matter of weeks. Worse, the hospital’s overbearing, narcissistic surgeon (whose specialty brings in big dollars) Dr. William Mason resents London and wants her fired. Starting his investigation, Rothauser learns that London’s lifestyle and Beacon Hill mansion can’t be reconciled with her hospital salary. Then he discovers she also works as a highly paid lobbyist for the Nutritional Supplement Council, representing an industry Rothauser considers “snake-oil manufacturers.” He’s even more confused over London’s supposed personal and professional history and her obsession with her multiple social media accounts using aliases. Perhaps he shouldn’t have jumped into bed with London, especially considering that Mason soon discovers his indiscretion and threatens his job, too. Add assassins working for a Blackwater-type mercenary outfit and a princely amount of Machiavellian M.D. egomania and the complex yet fast-paced plot searches hard for nice-guy characters—Rothauser arrives as a hardworking poor kid who made it through Harvard Medical School but has a nasty secret lurking; London is opaque, part chameleon, part sociopath. Cook is up-to-date on sophisticated medical equipment, but the high-tech setting is really irrelevant to the tale. Where Cook shines is in illuminating that combination of impersonal professionalism and potential terror haunting every hospital corridor.
A return to form for the master of medical malevolence.