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The explosive new thriller from New York Times–bestselling author and master of the medical thriller, Robin Cook.

Lynn Peirce, a fourth-year medical student at South Carolina's Mason-Dixon University, thinks she has her life figured out. But when her otherwise healthy boyfriend, Carl, enters the hospital for routine surgery, her neatly ordered life is thrown into total chaos. Carl fails to return to consciousness after the procedure, and an MRI confirms brain death.
Devastated by Carl's condition, Lynn searches for answers. Convinced there's more to the story than what the authorities are willing to reveal, Lynn uses all her resources at Mason-Dixon—including her initially reluctant lab partner, Michael Pender—to hunt down evidence of medical error or malpractice.
What she uncovers, however, is far more disturbing. Hospitals associated with Middleton Healthcare, including the Mason-Dixon Medical Center, have unnervingly high rates of unexplained anesthetic complications and patients contracting serious and terminal illness in the wake of routine hospital admissions.
When Lynn and Michael begin to receive death threats, they know they're into something bigger than either of them anticipated. They soon enter a desperate race against time for answers before shadowy forces behind Middleton Healthcare and their partner, Sidereal Pharmaceuticals, can put a stop to their efforts once and for all.
From the Hardcover edition.
The explosive new thriller from New York Times–bestselling author and master of the medical thriller, Robin Cook.

Lynn Peirce, a fourth-year medical student at South Carolina's Mason-Dixon University, thinks she has her life figured out. But when her otherwise healthy boyfriend, Carl, enters the hospital for routine surgery, her neatly ordered life is thrown into total chaos. Carl fails to return to consciousness after the procedure, and an MRI confirms brain death.
Devastated by Carl's condition, Lynn searches for answers. Convinced there's more to the story than what the authorities are willing to reveal, Lynn uses all her resources at Mason-Dixon—including her initially reluctant lab partner, Michael Pender—to hunt down evidence of medical error or malpractice.
What she uncovers, however, is far more disturbing. Hospitals associated with Middleton Healthcare, including the Mason-Dixon Medical Center, have unnervingly high rates of unexplained anesthetic complications and patients contracting serious and terminal illness in the wake of routine hospital admissions.
When Lynn and Michael begin to receive death threats, they know they're into something bigger than either of them anticipated. They soon enter a desperate race against time for answers before shadowy forces behind Middleton Healthcare and their partner, Sidereal Pharmaceuticals, can put a stop to their efforts once and for all.
From the Hardcover edition.
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  • From the book Spring in Charleston, South Carolina, is a resplendent affair, and by the beginning of April, it is always well underway. As if competing for attention, the azaleas, the camellias, the hyacinths, the early blooming magnolias, and the forsythias all contribute their riot of color and fragrance. And on this particular day, as the sun prepared to rise there was the promise that it would be glorious day for most everyone in this scenic, historic town. Everyone, that is, except Carl Vandermeer, a successful, young lawyer who had grown up in nearby West Ashley.
    Most mornings, regardless of the time of the year but particularly in the springtime, Carl would be part of a sizable group of joggers who ran along the Battery that was located at the southern tip of Charleston's peninsula. The Battery fronted that portion of the expansive Charleston Harbor formed by the confluence of the Cooper and the Ashley River. Lined with period mansions and boasting a public garden, the Battery was one of the most attractive and popular locales of the city.
    Like most of the other runners, Carl lived in the surrounding and charming residential neighborhood called SOB to the locals as the acronym for 'South of Broad Street.' Broad Street was a thoroughfare that ran east-west across the Charlestown peninsula between the two rivers.
    The reason Carl was not jogging this beautiful, spring morning was the same reason he had not been jogging for the previous month. He had torn his anterior-cruciate ligament in his right knee during the final basketball game of the past season. He and a half dozen other athletically inclined lawyers had formed a team to play in a city league.
    Carl had always been into sports through high school and Duke University where he played Division 1 lacrosse with considerable renown. Having made it a point to keep himself in shape even during law school, he thought of himself as generally immune to injury, especially since he was only twenty-nine years old. Throughout his athletic career he had never suffered more than a couple of sprained ankles.
    So the knee injury had come as an unwelcome surprise. One minute he was perfectly fine having played the entire first half of the game and scored eighteen points in the process. With the ball in his possession, he had faked the fellow guarding him to the left and then went to the right to drive to the basket. He never made it. The next thing he knew he was sprawled on the floor unsure of how he had gotten there. Embarrassed, he got right to his feet. There was some discomfort in his right knee, but it wasn't bad. He took a few steps to walk it out and immediately collapsed for the second time. That was when he knew it was serious.
    A visit to Dr. Gordon Weaver, an orthopedic surgeon, had confirmed the diagnosis as a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Even Carl, a complete medical novice by choice, had been able to see it on the MRI. The bad news was he'd have to have surgery if he wanted to play any kind of sports. Dr. Weaver said the best operation involved diverting a portion of his own patellar tendon up through his joint. The only good news was that his health plan would cover the whole deal including the rehab. His bosses at the law firm where he worked were not thrilled about the necessary down time, but missing work was not what bothered Carl. What bothered Carl was that he had a particularly strong distaste for having anything to do with medicine and needles. He had been known to pass out merely having blood drawn and didn't even like the smell of rubbing alcohol because of its associations. He had never been hospitalized, but he had visited friends who had been and the...
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 10, 2015
    Bestseller Cook’s engrossing medical thriller revisits themes from 1977’s Coma. Lynn Peirce, a fourth-year medical student at the Mason-Dixon University Medical Center in Charleston, S.C., has her life upended when her lawyer boyfriend, Carl Vandermeer, suffers severe brain damage during a routine orthopedic procedure. Baffled by what went wrong, Lynn and a colleague, Michael Pender, turn detective to find answers. But they only come up with additional questions when they learn that Carl wasn’t the only patient at the hospital to suffer such complications, and they discover more about a state-of-the-art high-tech facility affiliated with Mason-Dixon that houses patients in vegetative states. A prologue alerts the reader to the existence of a conspiracy through the journal entries of another victim of bad medicine, Kate Hurley, who ends up murdered during a “horrific home invasion.” Cook does a good job of making the medicine intelligible, though the ending may strike some as stretching credulity a bit too far.

  • Kirkus

    September 15, 2015
    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 cliche. 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.

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    October 15, 2014
    After her boyfriend dies following routine surgery, fourth-year medical student Lynn Pierce drafts lab partner Edward into helping her investigate the possibility of medical malpractice. They find something even worse--and then the death threats start arriving.

    Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    September 15, 2015
    In Cook's latest thriller, a medical student, distraught after the unexpected death of her boyfriend following what was supposed to be no-risk surgery, uncovers a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of the medical establishment and could risk her own life if she tries to bring the conspirators to justice. If this all sounds a tad familiar, it's because Cook has told variations of this same story numerous times. Devoted fans might enjoy this one, of course: it will feel familiar and comfortable. But after 20-odd novelsnot counting the multivolume Jack Stapleton and Laurie Montgomery seriesCook may have gone to the conspiracy well a few too many times, and some of his fans might detect a certain blah feeling in the story, as if even the author is beginning to lose interest. The quality of the writing is consistent with his other novels, too: competent but not noteworthy and with moments of jarring inadequacy, as if first-draft sentences and paragraphs have somehow made it into the finished book. Cook has name value to many readers, of course, and this one will draw interest, but it could peak quickly.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

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