My first book read in 2016! 1 down, 51 more to go to reach my goal for this year. Critical is another Robin Cook book, however much more recently published then the previous books i have read of his. When i say recent i actually mean published in 2007, as opposed to the late 1970s which was when the first Robin Cook book i read was authored.

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Angela Dawson, M.D., appears to have it all: at the age of thirty-seven, she owns a fabulous New York City apartment, a stunning seaside house on Nantucket, and enjoys the perks of her prosperous lifestyle. But her climb to the top was rough, marked by a troubled childhood, a failed marriage, and the devastating blow of bankruptcy as a primary-care internist. Painfully aware of the role of economics in modern life, particularly in the health-care field, Angela returned to school to earn an MBA. Armed with a shiny new degree and blessed with determination, intelligence, and impeccable timing, Angela founded a start-up company, Angels Healthcare, then took it public. With her controlling interest in three busy specialty hospitals in New York City and plans for others in Miami and Los Angeles, Angela’s future looked very bright.

Then a surge of drug-resistant staph infections in all three hospitals devastates Angela’s carefully constructed world. Not only do the infections result in patient deaths, but the fatalities also cause stock prices to tumble, leaving market analysts wondering if Angela will be able to hold her empire together.

New York City medical examiners Laurie Montgomery and Jack Stapleton are naturally intrigued by the uptick in staph-related post-procedure deaths. Aside from their own professional curiosity, there’s a personal stake as well: Laurie and Jack are newly married, and Jack is facing surgery to repair a torn ligament at Angels Orthopedic Hospital. Despite Jack’s protests, Laurie can’t help investigating-opening a Pandora’s box of corporate intrigue that threatens not just her livelihood, but her life with Jack as well.

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Story wise this book was not as interesting or thrilling as the previous Cook books i have read. While the main storyline was interesting enough, to determine the cause of the outbreak of MRSA at Angel owned hospitals, i found myself struggling to be entertained or thrilled throughout the book and simply wanting to finish to get to the revelation of how everything played out. Even then, the whole plot and climax of the story was a let down, with how the crime was actually committed left to be explained in the epilogue.

The story primarily focuses on Laurie, one of the medical examiners in New York and her investigation into the death of a number of patients who were operated on at Angel Healthcare hospitals. It switches between focusing on her investigations into the deaths and the business activities of  Angela Dawson, the CEO of the company. It also focuses at some points on the members of the various gangs involved in the conspiracy.

I think the main reason why i did not enjoy this book and this storyline as much as the previous ones as it was very focused on the business and the ‘mobster’ aspect of the whole investigation. At times i was just wanting to get through the parts with the mobsters abducting people, and the talks Angela has to have with the bank to get more money and really wanting some more focus on the medical and pathological aspects of the storyline. This is what attracted me so much to Robin Cook as i love medicine and pathology and i love how he weaves them into a thrilling story. Many of the criticism these books receive are that the jargon and language used are very complex or just hard to understand the concepts at play in the plot. I completely understand this as it has taken me a whole Bachelors Degree majoring in Pathology to understand exactly what Cook is trying to get at.

If there was more focus on these aspects of the book, and a much better pay off at the end i would have enjoyed it a whole lot more. When the only discussion about the crime, the motives and how the guy actually did it was a couple pages in the epilogue and the medical explanation was only a few sentences here and there the revelation was very anticlimactic. While i appreciated the insights into the business aspect and the dealings of the Mob, it should not come at a price of neglecting the science of the story.

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Laurie and Jack are the main characters in Critical, as it is book #7 in their book series. While i only have read one book of the aforementioned series i felt that i did not miss out on important character details or that not reading the previous books made it hard to understand this one. While the previous book i read focuses on Jack, this one had a primary focus on Laurie. Of the two i do like Jack better, but overall i think they are great characters and i enjoy reading about them. However i feel there could be a little more characterisation and insight into their motives, ideals and just general personality. Though this may be established in the earlier books in the series.

The other characters are very minor and only little is established about their characters. Angela is the only other major character that has some ‘screen time’ and whose background is explained. While she is obviously intelligent and ambitious, and Cook tries to make us feel some sympathy for her throughout the books, especially in the epilogue. However i dislike Angela,  primarily because as an M.D she has a duty of care to treat patients and make sure their welfare is of top priority. However what she does is create a company to capitalise on loop holes in the law to make money as a private hospital, which is something i deeply disagree with. Apart from this i was interested in her character and her motives for everything.

The mobsters did not really interest me. While i liked the rivalry between the two mobs and how that influenced the final story and not much was elaborated on their characters.

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I always come into Robin Cook books with high expectations as i love his writing and the stories he creates. The medical and pathological aspects of his books always interest me and it is something i love and have a passion for. Critical  however did not live up to my expectations. While i loved the concept of the plot and the microbiology aspect i felt that the storyline as a whole just was not what it could have been, and the big pay off at the end ;the big revelation as to who did it, how and why was so anti climactic and an oversight. Cook seemed more focuses on trying to bring in the mob aspect of the story and focusing on the business side of the story rather then this crucial part of the story and the part i have loved most about his books.

I still love Robin Cook and i am hoping that the next book i read by him brings back the excitement and the enthusiasm i have when ever i read his writing.

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