Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Foreign Body-Robin Cook

Foreign Body
Robin Cook
Putnam, Aug 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 9780399155024

At the Queen Victoria Hospital in New Delhi, India, nurse Veena Chandra enters the room of sixty-four year old American medical tourist Maria Hernandez, who came here for a hip replacement as the costs are much less than in New York including travel expense. Veena injects a poison killing the woman as part of a deal she made to keep her mom and sisters safe from her abusive father. Afterward, Veena visits Nurses International Chief Cal Morgan to tell him she did the deed, but the patient thanked her before dying. Veena shocks Cal by having sex with him; afterward saying she just wanted to prove her father wrong about someone knowing about her father’s molestation secret and wanting her before she commits suicide.

UCLA medical student Jennifer Hernandez is at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center when CNN reports the death of a Marisa Hernandez of Queens. She calls her malingering dad who says Maria is in India having a hip replacement. Later that day she confirms her beloved grandma died in India. Knowing her dad would use his bad back as an excuse; Jennifer travels to India to bring her beloved grandma home. However, there she begins to learn of other odd deaths of medical tourists; she calls her mentor New York City medical examiner Dr. Laurie Montgomery who along with her spouse Dr. Jack Stapleton come to New Delhi only to learn there is something evil going on at modern Queen Victoria Hospital and if they are not careful they will be the next to die.

This fast-paced medical thriller comes from the headlines as Americans going to India for medical procedures has become a major “tourist” industry. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action while also slapping at the system of high cost of non health care in America. Although why the Astoria sexagenarian had to be murdered is explained late leaving a gap for too long, Robin Cook provides a powerful look at the newest health trend; going overseas for operations and cures.

Harriet Klausner