Picks and Pans Review: Mindbend
by Robin Cook
The latest medical frightmare from Cook begins with a graphic description of an abortion. It is full of needles and pain, clinical details and a cold, unfeeling doctor who seems far more interested in the fetus as an abstract specimen than he is in the mother. The hero of this horror tale, Adam Schonberg, is a third-year medical student who has to drop out of school when his wife, who has been supporting them, becomes pregnant. He takes a job with a drug manufacturer doing research on mind-control drugs, using substances extracted from fetuses. On a company-sponsored cruise for doctors, suspicious things happen, and Schonberg decides to check out the firm's lab in Puerto Rico. There he meets a doctor friend from the cruise who has been turned into a guinea pig. The story's suspense is clearly calculated. Will Schonberg's wife have an abortion while he's away? Will someone stick a needle into him? In an afterword, Cook explains that he believes bottom-line business considerations are taking over medicine and that he has written this novel to expose them. Since Mindbend's formula plotting will seem thoroughly familiar to readers of Cook's earlier novels—Coma, Brain, Fever, and Godplayer—it's difficult to believe he has encountered any revelations. Cook, a Boston-based surgeon until he became immersed in writing fiction, is to medicine what Father Andrew Greeley is to the Catholic Church—both men exploit their professions in the production of tasteless, trendy, silly, big-buck novels. (Putnam, $15.95)
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