Tag Archives: Robin Cook

Host by Robin Cook – spoiled by a too-obvious agenda

Host by Robin Cook


See it at Amazon 


Pros: very intriguing medical story

Cons: horrible characters, an obvious agenda

Decent premise, lots of action, would make a great movie.  But, Dear Lord, can Robin Cook stop with the social justice!

I enjoy medical thrillers.  And Robin Cook’s Host has a lot going for it.  A lot that give this book the suspense-filled intrigue that I expect from this genre.  But Cook had an obvious agenda, and he shoved it down our throats.

First the good stuff: When a healthy young man goes in for a routine operation and never wakes up, there’s reason to question what happened.  Even stranger is the pattern that is discovered.  Apparently Carl isn’t the only person to suffer this fate.  His girlfriend Lynn is on the case.  Digging around, with the help of her buddy, Michael, the duo will turn every rock to find what is happening.

And as the body count starts to rise, it’s clear that some very powerful people are trying very hard to keep some very bad secrets.

All of that is good stuff, and the reason I enjoy this type of story.

But Michael is black.  I know this because it’s mentioned approximately 100 times throughout the story.  Not only do they let us know the color of Michael’s skin, but they tell us – over and over again – how much this defines Michael’s life, and how he suffers injustice because of it.  Like when they pass a stranger on the street and Michael has to lament how they looked away when he passed.  Or how it’s clear that nobody trusts him.  And when he goes anywhere with his friend, a white woman, people “raise their eyebrows” and quickly look away.   Worse, Michael can speak two languages… the king’s English or black-talk (both are his phrases, not mine).  Apparently, depending on the situation at hand, he can choose which way he wants to come off.  But then he complains when people appear to judge him or have preconceived notions about who he is.

Look, I’m not saying there’s no racism in this world.  And I’m not saying that people never judge others.

I’m just saying that when I read a thriller, I prefer to stick to that which will thrill, intrigue, and interest me.  If the author must toss some societal stuff at me, keep it to a minimum.  I don’t need it repeated ad nauseum throughout the book.  And, frankly, I didn’t like Lynn much better.  Here’s a typical Lynn thought: “I know I shouldn’t open that door because there’s someone there trying to kill me – but I just HAVE to open that door”.  She’s like the dumb person in every horror movie – the person who runs upstairs instead of out the door.

So, read Host for the medical story – it’s actually quite good.  But you’ll be rolling your eyes at a lot of nonsense, too.

Also by Robin Cook





Mindbend by Robin Cook – Decent medical thriller, but unrealistic

Mindbend by Robin Cook




See it at Amazon 


Pros: decent medical thriller that held my interest

Cons: not believable for a second

Medical thrillers. I love them. Mysteries and thrills surrounding the medical profession – what more could you ask for in an enthralling novel? Robin Cook is a master at the genre, weaving tales of terror that can make you very afraid to step into any medical facility!

In Mindbend we take a look at what happens when a large corporation decides to change the medical profession – one doctor at a time. When they figure out that great profits can be made, if only they could get doctors to do their bidding for them, placing their interests ahead of – well – pretty much everything and everyone else… especially ahead of the patients.

Adam and Jennifer are happily married, even if they have some financial issues, with no support from either of their parents. But when Jennifer gets pregnant – accidentally – the financial pressures get even worse. Adam takes a leave from school in order to take a job with a large pharmaceutical company. The large paycheck and slew of benefits seem like a gift from heaven. In addition, the company is associated with a large health care clinic where Jennifer can receive her obstetrical care. Everything seems to be falling into place.

Until Adam becomes suspicious of the doctors at the clinic. As well as his co-workers at the drug company. They all seem just a bit “off”. Worse, he suspects Jennifer’s life, and the life of her baby could be placed in peril. But suspecting something, and proving it are two different things. Especially when people will go to any lengths to keep their secrets. As the body count rises, it becomes a race against time for Adam, Jennifer, and the baby.

Mindbend held my interest, and I definitely wanted to know how it would all work out. But it suffers from a degree of implausibility that goes beyond the pale. I understand that to make stories in this genre work, we have to allow for some amount of fantasy. After all, a medical story based solely on real-life would be pretty dull. But in this case, the story just felt more like sci-fi than medical thriller.

Worse, in order for the story to work, not only did a corporation have to be completely, 100% evil, but good, honest doctors had to be quite naïve – bordering on downright stupid. Literally Adam is the only doctor capable of thinking for himself, of noticing when something seems “not quite right”. Everyone else is walking around with blinders on.

Written in 1985, the story doesn’t feel particularly dated. In fact, it could have been written today and still work the same. Of course, Adam didn’t have a cell phone, which really would have helped them out at times, but still, the story holds up in today’s world.

Give Mindbend a read, if you enjoy medical thrillers, but you’ll have to deal with an extreme lack of realism.

Also by Robin Cook