Essentially a rewrite of Cook’s first blockbuster, Coma (1977), plugging in big pharma and amoral Russian oligarchs as...

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Blending a witch’s brew of weird science and unbridled greed, Cook’s (Cell, 2014, etc.) newest medical thriller will boost the blood pressure of anyone facing hospitalization.

Lynn Peirce and Michael Pender are fourth-year medical students at Mason-Dixon University Medical Center, part of Middleton Healthcare conglomerate. With graduation coming, Michael is Boston-bound and Lynn is anticipating an engagement ring from lawyer Carl Vandermeer. Then Carl is hospitalized for knee surgery. He comes out of the operation comatose and in a persistent vegetative state. Serendipitously, the Shapiro Institute, a "state-of-the-art-facility" for PVS patients, is nearby. It’s an affiliate of Sidereal Pharmaceuticals, a high-tech drug manufacturer owned by a reclusive Russian billionaire. Risking expulsion from medical school and violating HIPAA privacy standards, Lynn and Michael learn that Shapiro’s true purpose is far more nefarious than providing "automation, computerization, and control of infection" for PVS patients. Affordable Care Act aside, Cook’s formula—greed and medicine are a lousy combination—still works. As one character notes, "even the so-called nonprofit hospitals are money mills in disguise." Cook’s other villain is an easy target—international pharmaceutical corporations, the sort that spend more on advertising than research. That leads to motive: "biologics, or drugs made by living systems," are a multibillion-dollar market, and Shapiro has a way to make them cheap and quick. Add esoteric terminology—hybridomas, gammopathy, doll’s eye reflex—plus Russian ex–special forces assassins, and the action ramps up from threats and coercion to rape and murder. Lynn is an anemic protagonist, while Michael, an African-American athlete and scholar from a poor family, is better sketched but verging on cliché. The bad guys are off-the-shelf Villains 'R' Us, but the Shapiro Institute, where the Mission Impossible final chase scene takes place, is sci-fi nightmare material.

Essentially a rewrite of Cook’s first blockbuster, Coma (1977), plugging in big pharma and amoral Russian oligarchs as 21st-century villains.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-17214-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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