The Patient

Michael Palmer, Author
Michael Palmer, Author Bantam Books $24.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-553-10983-2
Hardcover - 432 pages - 978-0-375-40977-6
Compact Disc - 978-0-553-45675-2
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-553-52697-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 435 pages
Prebound-Glued - 435 pages - 978-0-613-36584-0
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Palmer's ninth medical thriller (after Miracle Cure) probably isn't the book to be reading when you've got a slight headache. Early on, a star Olympic gymnast feels a small pain in her skull, and soon she's having a brain tumor zapped by a flashy new surgical robot. The author, who was a full-time practitioner of internal and emergency medicine for 20 years, tells readers so much about the actual work of brain surgery that some might decide to skip over a few of the more agonizing moments, such as the frenzied operation on a young boy with a bullet wound. Yet these bloody and painful details put readers firmly inside the skin of Dr. Jessie Copeland, a neurosurgeon in her 40s with a combined undergraduate degree in biology and mechanical engineering. Now working under egomaniacal chief surgeon Carl Gilbride at a top Boston hospital, Jessie gets to try out ARTIE (Assisted Robotic Tissue Incision and Extraction) on cadavers, while Gilbride coaxes foundations to cough up millions for the revolutionary new procedure. Attracted by the media attention generated by ARTIE's use (too early, Jessie thinks) on the gymnast, shadowy terrorist Claude Malloche, known as ""the Mist,"" who also has a brain tumor, comes to the hospital for treatment--and winds up holding patients and staff hostage in case the operation fails. It's finally up to Jessie and a rogue CIA agent to keep everyone healthy. This graft between medical and terrorist thriller has some rough edges, but the operation is a success. Agent, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (Apr.)
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