Mindbend by Robin Cook
Pros: decent medical thriller that held my interest
Cons: not believable for a second
Medical thrillers. I love them. Mysteries and thrills surrounding the medical profession – what more could you ask for in an enthralling novel? Robin Cook is a master at the genre, weaving tales of terror that can make you very afraid to step into any medical facility!
In Mindbend we take a look at what happens when a large corporation decides to change the medical profession – one doctor at a time. When they figure out that great profits can be made, if only they could get doctors to do their bidding for them, placing their interests ahead of – well – pretty much everything and everyone else… especially ahead of the patients.
Adam and Jennifer are happily married, even if they have some financial issues, with no support from either of their parents. But when Jennifer gets pregnant – accidentally – the financial pressures get even worse. Adam takes a leave from school in order to take a job with a large pharmaceutical company. The large paycheck and slew of benefits seem like a gift from heaven. In addition, the company is associated with a large health care clinic where Jennifer can receive her obstetrical care. Everything seems to be falling into place.
Until Adam becomes suspicious of the doctors at the clinic. As well as his co-workers at the drug company. They all seem just a bit “off”. Worse, he suspects Jennifer’s life, and the life of her baby could be placed in peril. But suspecting something, and proving it are two different things. Especially when people will go to any lengths to keep their secrets. As the body count rises, it becomes a race against time for Adam, Jennifer, and the baby.
Mindbend held my interest, and I definitely wanted to know how it would all work out. But it suffers from a degree of implausibility that goes beyond the pale. I understand that to make stories in this genre work, we have to allow for some amount of fantasy. After all, a medical story based solely on real-life would be pretty dull. But in this case, the story just felt more like sci-fi than medical thriller.
Worse, in order for the story to work, not only did a corporation have to be completely, 100% evil, but good, honest doctors had to be quite naïve – bordering on downright stupid. Literally Adam is the only doctor capable of thinking for himself, of noticing when something seems “not quite right”. Everyone else is walking around with blinders on.
Written in 1985, the story doesn’t feel particularly dated. In fact, it could have been written today and still work the same. Of course, Adam didn’t have a cell phone, which really would have helped them out at times, but still, the story holds up in today’s world.
Give Mindbend a read, if you enjoy medical thrillers, but you’ll have to deal with an extreme lack of realism.