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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Review: Intervention by Robin Cook

In Robin Cook’s new novel, Intervention, we meet up once more with New York City medical examiner, Jack Stapleton. Jack and his wife, Laurie recently had a baby boy. Their baby, JJ, has been diagnosed with a form of childhood cancer, neuroblastoma. Jack throws himself into his work to distract himself from the problems with JJ, and while researching alternative medicine discovers its dangers.

In the meantime, old college friends of Jack’s, Shawn Daughtry, a renowned archaeologist and scholar, and James O’Rourke, the Archbishop of New York City find themselves at loggerheads about an ancient document and ossuary that Shawn has found. Shawn believes it to contain the remains of the Virgin Mary, and James pleads with Jack to assist him in diverting Shawn from his study of the relics.

This is all much more interesting than my weak and undoubtedly lame synopsis made it sound. It’s really sort of a complex book to sum up easily. I enjoyed Intervention, for the most part. (Possible spoilers ahead…so skip to the last paragraph if you’re planning on reading the book!) Jack’s quest to uncover the dangers of alternative medicine was fascinating, and I may never go see a chiropractor again. She did help my lower back after a nasty fall down some stairs, but that neck popping part, that always felt so good…I don’t think I can ever let anyone do that again!! I was unhappy with the seeming ease with which Jack just let go of the quest. I understood the reasons, but it seemed like he was just a little too willing to write it off. That was complaint number one.

Complaint number two is admittedly silly, but it’s a writing device that many authors do and it just drives me nuts:

“He was happy to put it off until he finished the next autopsy, although had he any inkling about what he’d learn from the mother, he wouldn’t have put off the call for a second. Mrs. Abelard was going to tell him something he never would have guessed.”

I really don’t like this. The next chapter begins across the globe and with other characters, so the reader has to wait through a couple of more chapters to see what the heck Mrs. Abelard was going to tell him. I know, I’m not being fair, it’s a device to keep the reader going. But it bugs me. I’m going to keep going anyway. I don’t need to know that Mrs. Abelard is going to tell Jack something of great importance. I’ll figure that out when I read it. I don’t need a neon sign pointing the way, for cryin’ out loud.

Complaint number three is the conclusion of the book. It finished up nicely, wrapped up all the loose ends and was well written. So, what’s the problem? I don’t know! I liked it. It ended well. I guess I wish it had taken a little more time to get to it. It’s a very ephemeral feeling, there’s really nothing wrong with it that I can put my finger on, but it simply felt rushed to me.

So, I've complained and whined enough that you probably don't think I liked the book at all. And I did, it was a very interesting plot, good characters, the whole enchilada. And yep, I'd even recommend it, especially if you're a fan of Robin Cook and a follower of the Jack Stapleton series.

My rating:


Unknown said...

You wrote a great review of Robin Cook's book! I read several of his books a few years ago but not since. I forgot how much I enjoyed them until I read your review. I want to read this book for sure!

Kelly, I'm with you in disliking the book Life of Pi. I read it but didn't care for it at all and there were several pages I skimmed because I just couldn't read it. I gave it to my husband to read as well and he didn't like it either.
So I think you're in good company!

Books are a great comfort to many people and a wonderful hobbie. And these blogs make me all the more grateful that I'm a book fan!

Enjoy your weekend!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I brought this one home from the library yesterday. I like his books (some more than others).

bermudaonion said...

I didn't know Robin Cook had a new book out. I've enjoyed his books in the past, so I might just look for this one.

Anonymous said...

A Robin Cook story is usually a reliable good read. This, however, was horrible. Stale characters, poor dialogue, and a sad attempt at trying to be a Dan Brown thriller writer. Very disappointed.

Furthermore, his obvious attack on chiropractic was shameful. If it wasnt for chiropractic, I would be dead or disabled. They saved my life. Especially from the dangerous medical profession bent on profit over patient, and ego over ethics. The book seemed more of an attack on a fine profession with misleading and inaccurate information.

Cook's typical approach to detail in the medical terminology is usually flawless. His attacks on chiropractic prove he should only write about what he knows. That is the first rule of any writer. Write about what you "KNOW" and he failed miserably here. For God's sake, no chiropractor would xray a patient at EVERY visit. And a stroke from a chiropractic adjustment is rare beyond mentioning. Better chance of hitting the lottery or getting hit by lightening, or enjoying this novel. Come on Cook, that was amateurish.

And his inablity to tie in the three plots that just fizzled out let the book just come across as just a rant against alternative care, hatred toward the catholic church, and a disconnected father of a terminally ill child. All the while setting a tone that mainstream medicine is altruistic and infallible. After this poorly constructed story, it reaffirmed the growing attitude that the medical world is arrogant to the detriment of the health of its patients.

Cook wrote like a rookie this time. It makes me wonder if he even wrote it at all or used a ghost writer and slapped his name on it for some fast cash. If so, time to retire Cook. I hope you are not becoming a sell out in your old age. Get it right next time. I am embarrassed for you.
Your plot structure was weak.

The one thing you got right was the arrogance of your protagonist Dr. Jack Stapleton. He really came across as an MD. Guess you can write about something you DO know. Good luck on the next one.

Recommendation to potential readers: DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY OR TIME.

Kelly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kelly said...

Okay, let's try this again, I deleted my previous comment because I messed up the html.


Thanks for your input, I wanted to respond here, but I think I'm too wordy and I couldn't get the response to post. You can click HERE to read my response.


Kelly said...

By the way...anonymous...thanks for the "guest review". Had you emailed me, I would have been happy to post your opposing/negative review as a guest review. Or a link to your blog with your review posted on it. No need for anonymity here..we're all booklovers who agree to disagree sometimes!

Davidsask said...

I have read almost all of this authors work, and this was JUNK! I love the Jack and Laurie stories, and he has killed them! Laurie was barely in it and has been reduced to mother at home. I read these stories for them working together not apart. The whole F**ked up plot of religion was like a 180 of what anyone wants to read! It had nothing to do with medicine really! I felt like I was reading a Dan Brown book and am super pissed. I want to write the author for the first time in my life, and demand why? Skip it people!

Unknown said...

I also thought this was the worst book. Slow and tedious in the middle, very little science, and what's with Jack, a medical examiner who always wants to get at the truth, agreeing to hide a relic to help a friend hide what could be an inconvenient truth!???! The whole thing made no sense to me, and as I approached the end and realized it where it was going, I was just disgusted.

nitin mishra said...

i was not real fan of robin cook,i have read his few novels like fatal cure,vector.his knowledge in medical field (as he is a doctor) commendable.i pick up his book thinking like that but intervention is disaster in a sense inappropriate jumping to other field which he is not master.he tried to disgraced alternative medical system mostly chiropractor,i too doest know about it but reading his novel i got negative feeling towards it.this is shame full.there are many deaths from urban lifestyle,drug overdose,medical negligence,alcoholism,etc so who is responsible?its like vendetta for other alternative medicine .it was mixed with archeology finding couldn't read this book i am very disappointed with this book.not recommended to read

Unknown said...

Hi ur review was a balanced one.I enjoy readind Robin Cook but i feel that he lose grip on the plot at end.Anyways i m a fan of Dr Jack and his humour.

Anonymous said...

i like reading robin cook books, especially since i'm a doctor and the plots interest me. i have this particular book in my kindle, and i'm unsure about reading it...and from the comments here, it seems it might not really be such a good read. too bad :S

A @ A Changing Life said...

Getting on for two years after the original post, I came across this while trying to find out what other people thought.

I've read several Robin Cook books in the past and enjoyed them, but this one really doesn't seem up to normal standard. The characters were were bizarre and the descriptions and explanations of religious writings and beliefs were tedious. Some of the grammar was very questionable too.

I really didn't like the indiscriminate attack on alternative medicine which isn't all quackery by any means. But that didn't matter because it petered out within a few pages. Was it an afterthought or were two stories spliced together?

I'm sorry to say I didn't enjoy it, though I did finish it. That, I suppose, says something.

A @ A Changing Life said...

It reminded me a little of "The Genesis Code" by John Case, but I enjoyed that more.

Anonymous said...

It seemed a bit too catholic for me! The priest took a shameful course of action to hide the truth and still get away with it. (Does it sound familiar?) Also there was this 'godlike' intervention to save the baby ... what the hell...
Also, where does the fight against voodoo medicine fits in?
Good for believers, only!

Praveen said...

The novel disappointed readers on following aspects
1. the chiropractor and alternative medicine issues just died off without reaching anywhere
2.Too much of research oriented.Took out the thrill of reading- Conscious effort to resemble DanBrawn series-Not reaching anywhere near.
3. In the pursuit of not provoking controversy by poking on Christianity author lost way and didnt know how to finish
4. A renowned wirter; a doctor himself ended up supporting faith healers

S.G.Kulkarni said...

I have read five books by the same author starting with much celebrated COMA which I liked very much.But I am disappointed by this book due to the four reasons mentioned by Mr.Praveen.I did not like the abrupt end of the story,but at the same time I had some inkling about the end which I suppose the author was compelled to finish in that particular fashion

Anonymous said...

i'm a follower of Jack and Laurie since contagion. though it's my second time reading intervention but still i'm thrilled to read page by page.