There are certain traditions that go hand-in-hand with going to a beach house. Hair dryers and make-up stay in the bag. Socks are rarely worn. Meals are casual. Maybe you do a little crabbing or fishing, take the kids to play mini-golf and, of course, you go to the beach.
You might already have a book to read on the beach or maybe you do what I sometimes do: take your chances and see what’s on the shelf at the house, a beach house library with a crazy mix of reading options. My choices this year included Gone with the Wind, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, a couple popular mysteries and my ultimate selection, Coma, by Robin Cook.
If you were around in the seventies, you might remember the cover, a naked body hanging from wires like a creepy marionette. This book quickly became a best-seller and was named “the #1 medical thriller of the year” by the New York Times.
Susan Wheeler is a third-year medical student and has just begun a surgical rotation at Boston Memorial Hospital. On her very first day, she senses that something very strange is going on. Perfectly healthy patients, in for routine operations, are falling into irreversible comas. Susan is smart, beautiful and persistent and she’s determined to get to the bottom of this disturbing medical situation. She uses her brains, female charm and dancer’s athleticism to access files, request computer searches, crawl through recessed ceilings and run from the bad guys.
I enjoyed reading Coma. Its easy style and fast-moving plot carry the story, despite its dated feel and superficial characters. You have to read a book like this with a certain anything goes attitude. Unrealistic coincidences abound, characters are a bit stereo-typed and the dialogue is pretty wooden, but the plot eventually takes off and the action and suspense rule in the second half.
There is a great deal of medical jargon, but don’t worry if you’re not a doctor. Since the author is also an MD, I’m sure these descriptions are legit and they add credibility to the story.
Susan gets herself into a lot of trouble, first with various hospital executives and doctors and later with some dangerous characters. The suspense continues to the last page and ends with a little ambiguity, enough to make you just a little bit scared.
I think I made a good choice. The cover fell off half-way through and of course it got wet and sandy at the beach, but that’s part of the fun of a beach-house read, isn’t it?
Robin Cook is a best-selling author of twenty-eight medical thrillers, including Mindbend, Blindsight, and Contagion. Cook says that he writes thrillers because they give him “an opportunity to get the public interested in things about medicine that they didn’t seem to know about.” His most recent book, Cell, was published in 2014.
Coma was published in 1977 and was made into a popular movie in 1978, written and directed by Michael Crichton. It stars Geniviѐve Bujold and Michael Douglas.
Coma was also made into a 2012 TV miniseries on A&E, starring Lauren Ambrose, Steven Pasquale and Geena Davis.
Check out these additional links for information about Robin Cook:
Thanks for visiting – come back soon!