We were first introduced to Robin Cook many summers ago through his chilling book Coma (also made into a movie).
Over the years, we read several books by Cook including Fever, Brain and Sphinx although none lately.
When we heard that Cook’s new book The Foreign Body had a strong Indian connection, we decided to renew our acquaintance with the old man.
Set in India, The Foreign Body is a so-so medical thriller that has as its main theme the attempts by a bunch of crooked Americans working on behalf of a large evil U.S. business to bring disrepute to India’s fledgling medical tourism business that caters to average Joes who can’t afford the obscene fees charged by U.S. hospitals.
SuperiorCare Hospital Corporation, the U.S. company on whose behalf the crooks are working their nefarious deeds, is obviously none too pleasedÂ to see American patients go to India for surgery relating to hip replacement, knee replacement, stomach reduction and the like because of the negative impact on its business.
How the bad guys carry out their mission of bringing disrepute to India’s hospitals and how they are brought to justice constitutes the 436 pages of this book.
The principal character Jennifer Hernandez, a medical student at UCLA, visits India after learning from CNN that her dear grandmother has died in India of a heart attack following surgery.
Once in India, our intrepid Hernandez hears about other deaths and sees a pattern, setting in train a series of events that make up the rest of this book.
But the Foreign Body story is too implausible in parts.
For instance, some of the Indian nurses in cahoots with the bad guys are painted as so desperate to come to America that they easily agree – and are even eager – to murder their patients.
Let’s get real here. When even dodos know that America is a country in terminal decline (mostly because of the Republican idiots) would a bunch of smart nurses be willing to go that far.
Author Robin Cook does seem to have spent some time in India but his knowledge of the country is that of a mere tourist.
Not of one who has immersed himself in the India of today.
As a result, Cook gives too much emphasis to traditional Indian values that have all but been tossed aside as India rushes into a frenetic embrace of the material goodies.
Here’s an example of Cook’s weird understanding of India:
Instead of embracing the traditional karmic Indian values of passivity, obedience, and acceptance of life’s difficulties based on expectations of reward in the next life, both Samira and Veena progressively wanted the rewards in this life, not the next. [p.93]
Overall, The Foreign Body is an ok timepass but not a gripping read.