Cook's lack of ability as a stylist generally has been masked by his talent for fashioning a solid medical drama--often ripped from current headlines--that keeps readers turning pages. Unfortunately, that's not the case in his 12th novel (after Vital Signs ), which has a plot so ludicrous that the weak characters and silly dialogue are all too obvious. Most offensive in the latter category are the stilted, out-of-kilter exchanges between a pair of Mafia hit men who run about New York City "whacking" (murdering) people with increasing frequency. Meanwhile, Dr. Laurie Montgomery, a forensic pathologist in the NYC Medical Examiner office, finds a pattern of unrelated cocaine overdose deaths among career-oriented people never known to have used drugs. Despite the obvious evidence that she's onto something, her boss couldn't care less, while the homicide detective she becomes involved with is more concerned about the mob killings, and, like her boss, cannot understand why she is outraged by the behavior of two corrupt, thieving uniformed cops in her department. As luck would have it, there's also another man in Laurie's life, a self-centered ophthalmologist whose patients just happen to include the mob boss behind both the cocaine deaths and the murder spree. Readers who plow through this amateurish effort will guess the ending long before any of the characters has a clue.
Pages: 252 (paperback)
Rating: 2 out of 10
I read this book to fulfill the medical condition category of the What’s in a Name Challenge 2 and wish that I had not wasted my time. One of the most frustrating things about this book for me was that it was recommended to me by a librarian. I visited the public library in my new home town for the first time and decided to ask for a recommendation. I was a little skeptical when I picked up the book, but I thought that I should be open minded. Turns out that it is possible to be so open minded that your brains fall out.
The review that I posted above sums up some of the issues that I had with the book. I started to articulate some of the issues I have with the book in a Sunday Salon post. The characters were weak! Also, I found the book filled with some racist undertones. As I was reading the book, I started making a list of each racist or stereotypical comment I encountered. Since so much time has passed and I misplaced the paper, I am going to go from memory. In an effort to be descriptive, the author let’s us know the ethnic backgrounds of several side characters. I found that annoying not only because the description usually also contained something negative, but I found myself wondering about the ethnic background of all the other characters. Are we to assume that if the author does not describe the characters that they are white?
One of the main characters of the novel is Dr. Laurie Montgomery. From the author’s description, she is an attractive woman who is the recipient of sexist comments and is having trouble dating. I did appreciate the attempt at having a strong, female lead. However, I got annoyed with all the descriptions of her beauty and her strange dating antics. I just felt like it did not move the plot forward. Instead, I found her dialogue whiny and her approach to matters of the heart trite.
Finally, the worst part about this book is that I figured out the mystery with at least a third of the book remaining. The ending tied together a little bit too neatly. I did not care much about any of the characters and I felt angry with the lack of character development. I would not recommend this book to a friend.