Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Blindsight, Robin Cook

An introductory book to the ongoing series of Jack Stapleton and Laurie Montgomery - two keen-eyed and down-to-earth, practically smart and intelligent medical examiners. The series kicks off with the primary protagonist Dr Laurie as she begins her probationary work in the OCME down Manhattan. With practical workload coming in and out daily, she has nothing to complain save for the wonders of still being single at the age of 32. Upstart and young considering her age to begin as a forensic pathologist in one of the busiest morgue around the state, she has the tendency to ruffle a few feathers along with her enthusiasm and eagerness to get things done at record pace.

Blindsight introduces the downside of organ donation and in particular dwelling on the pressing issue of meagre supply of organs against the ever escalating demands of the latter. With the inclusion of the mafioso and the local Capo being one of the victims of acid burns on his cornea thus necessitating the need of a corneal transplant, he is not about to be sidelined with the bureaucratic bullshit of queuing up. Conspiratorial secrecies were sworn as he promises a renowned corneal transplant specialist that his business would boom and swell should he participate in his morbid scheme of upping the supplies through inhumane manner whilst through a not so clandestine approach taking out those who are in front of him waiting for a cornea. This was done in the hope of returning to his business with a clear sight as soon as possible and so it seems that his job would demand.

The book clearly outlines the horror and the uncensored aspect of organ donation and having read this, one might consider whether is this just plainly outlined in a plain fictitious method to rouse interest or to underline the illegal source of certain organs obtained. The skeletal aspect of the story is gripping enough to keep you on your seat and short enough to finish it within the day. This would appear to be quite a page-turner with Cook’s insight in his detailed medical knowledge as a veteran and his knee-deep research into forensics.

Critical, Robin Cook

Much of Robin Cook's novels take pride in elaborating a plot, mystifying it with a lot of twists and turns but only to see it collapsing with a gush of scientific details that borders on ethics and codes of conduct. The same should go towards this novel which highlights one of the superbugs that reside within the community; that being CA-MRSA (Community Acquired Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus). Though the build up was jostled with curiosity what with the mounting deaths that fails to detect any pattern of trend, Dr Laurie Montgomery was hard-pressed to discover the truth behind it all that led to such cumulative deaths from these bugs despite various attempts being carried out to curtail these infections. Though time and again proving futile to say the least, her determination was incorrigible and was partly due to the fact that her husband, Dr Jack Stapleton was about to be a subject himself to be exposed to the threatening superbug.

What predates the novel in subject was the discovery of unnatural deaths resulting from the MRSA infection through toxic like shock syndrome that is equated towards that of a flesh-eating bacterium. The mode of infection via the portal of entry was confusing to say the least and how such a meticulously clean environment could yield to such catastrophe was beyond adjectives. With patients coming in for elective operation ranging from cosmetic surgery to eye and orthopedic procedures, the amount of mortality far exceeds the acceptable quota. With the seed planted and with Jack going under the knife soon for a knee surgery in one of the said hospitals with CA-MRSA infection, Laurie is engaged in a battle of investigative wits and time constraint to solve the puzzle before death becomes imminent.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Silkworm, Robert Galbraith

Silkworm Half a year down the road after I read the Cuckoo’s Calling, which was insufferably uninteresting, I might have decided that it was a tad too early to conclude on the lack of affinity as to Rowling’s authorship on crime novels. Deciding to give it another shot as I was picking up books to read over the recentmost weekend, I selected the Silkworm off the shelves seeing that it made its way through to one of the best selling books in the local bookstore. A check on GoodReads and KoboBooks both revealed that it garnered quite a rating and that in itself gave me the cheek to give Galbraith another go.

With a more intimate account into the life and times of Cormoran Strike, his work relationship with his secretary Robin taking a plunge through the post-Lula Landry’s aftermath and the new case at hand; Silkworm is a convoluted novel that speaks in itself in a lot of ways. It ties up a great deal of loose ends that was left unexplored in Cuckoo’s Calling and it opens up a lot of issues with our gumshoe protagonist. A great deal of plots, subplots and diversion plots were running hand-in-glove and they fit remarkably snug as how a final jigsaw would to a puzzle piece. We get to read and come to the know-hows of Strike's dwellings having been thrown to the limelight in the investigative world and how he has been burdened with a great deal of uninteresting cases sorting out problems for dullards. Getting tired with tailing unfaithful husbands, cheating wives and coming in as an intermediary between illegal competitive business managers, Strike decidedly land himself up in an awkwardly eccentric case when a middle aged lady came up to his office at Denmark Street exactly eight months after his last glitter of success.

Leonora Quine makes a gaudy entrance proving to be the worse for wear at first glance. Despite the obvious fact that she would not be able to afford Strike with the latter’s desperation in paying off his loans and finally giving the fat paycheck that Robin so rightly deserve, her persistence and clairvoyance of having her case accepted by Cormoran was astoundingly distinct. Leonora’s wish was for Strike to find out the whereabouts of her missing husband, Owen Quine, a once famous literary-rebel who relishes himself in genres that would contort one’s guts and fails one’s appetite. With a final detestable fluorish being prominently displayed in a River Cafe restaurant exchanging vitriolic remarks with his agent, Elizabeth Tasser, for denying his latest works from being published, he then disappeared without a trace.

There begins a long trail of investigative work where Strike plummets himself into a world of novelists, editors and publishers alongside those that are close to Leonora Quine. It wasn’t until a third of the book had pass by did our protagonist discover the remains of Owen in a house left by a former author-friend to the deceased, did Strike’s investigation take an about turn. More characters make their appearance and unlike that of the case of Lula Landry’s death, Silkworm’s character paints a more striking image, a more vibrant look and as far as one can tell, bizarre. With ranges of characteristics varying from that of the extreme destitute to that of those who live off others in a large fort-like abode, their personalities were not only quirky, but presents a tough nut to crack.

What makes Silkworm interesting and absorbing is the clear fact that Rowling did wonders with hiding clues in the confines of the afflicted unpublished and garish novel that aim to defame many involved in the plot and as well as the attitudes of those who were accosted by Cormoran Strike. The complexities of such investigative interview that aims to unravel the truth and distinguishes lies from the slight twitch on the face or that altered inflections in the tone of the voice was one such reason why Rowling deserves credit. She has definitely increased the stakes and put on a marvellous show which could only make her readers crave for the next Cormoran Strike’s sequel. If pushed, I’d say it is her remarkable instincts in displaying a painstaking effort in detailing the minor details that warrant success.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Year of the Intern, Robin Cook

Certainly nothing fancy about this one. And certainly not meant for non-medical folks due to the large amount of medical terminologies and medical corollaries that comes with it. But even if you do appear interested, the large bulk of medical patois would eventually put one off as it drones on and on without a halting reverie. The novel regales a microcosmic artwork that represents what interns have to go through, at least during my time back when I was still one. Interns are the equivalent of house officers in Malaysia; while their residents are our fellow medical officers. Senior residents or registrars would be our senior medical officers who are training for a post to become a specialist. Although the description that blurts out every now and then brings up the old and fond memories of my own internship, I can’t deny the fact that exhaustion was one of the main issue that stems up like an ugly thorn throughout my early youthful life. It spoils almost everything and it devastates my own social being. Fortunately, I had only to endure one full year before stepping into the shoes of becoming a resident-in-training. Nowadays, it has been prolonged into two gruelling years. Thankfully, with the increasing amount of graduating medical students stepping up annually to fill and then over-fill the vacant spots, the burden has since started to decline. Yet a new problem stems into the wheel - that of quantity over the lack of quality.

Such is the spoils of medicine. For those who are keen to get a glimpse as to how an intern or a junior doctor operates throughout their lives, this non-fiction novel would tell you exactly what you need to know. Dr Peters step into his internship as a young Ivy League medical school grad (one of our UM graduate equivalent), one of the cream of the crops, but soon is about to find himself drenched with a whole bunch of shit, pee and goo. Academia has nothing to do with the real laborious clinical work and the grave amount of mental and physical exhaustion he is about to bear. And that’s just the beginning of it all. With the ongoing vicious cycle of stupendous amount of work, sleep and sex with varying partners to satisfy his own primitive instincts, he is about to hop onto the bandwagon of becoming a walking zombie in a white coat. And this is one zombie that is about to explode with all the hidden rage, frustration, self-consciousness and a whole pissant personality waiting just to emerge.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cure, Robin Cook

This is one book that deviate grossly from Cook’s normal habit. And that would be the involvement of the more than the usual norm of characters that would usually range around 10-15 majors with anywhere between up to 20 minors. Cure was an extensively thought out novel for a typical Stapleton-Montgomery series, making it one of the most researched work that I’ve read on Cook’s work up till now. The series of events took place between two countries, each in major townships of their own. The story opens in a university research lab in Tokyo and as it pans out, a favour was done to extradite an uprising Japanese researcher-talent from the more disciplinarian and strict country to a more free one in the US of A. As the novel shifts its lens towards the bustling town of Manhattan, two major forces colluded in an event that would shake up the normal routine of our two ME protagonist. This is one that is bounded out of proportion as more excitement could be tasted from the burning pace of the story. It’s definitely one that you would have difficulty putting down once you get started. I finished this one in less than a day pouring into the twists of the events as it gets more exciting from chapter to chapter.