cover image Viral


Robin Cook. Putnam, $27 (432p) ISBN 978-0-593-32829-3

In this disappointing thriller from bestseller Cook (Genesis), New Yorkers Brian and Emma Murphy are vacationing on Cape Cod when Emma is bitten by an Asian tiger mosquito. Emma has violent seizures on the drive back to New York, where Brian takes her straight to the emergency room of his local hospital, Manhattan Memorial, a choice that his insurer later uses as a basis to deny coverage for an astronomical hospital bill. Even as Brian grapples with a diagnosis that Emma has eastern equine encephalitis, the hospital’s administration puts the screws on him to come up with a payment plan. Subsequent developments force Brian to seek justice in his own way. Clunky dialogue (“Having grown up in France where this type of tolerated robbery involving healthcare would never happen, how has it come to be here in the United States that hospitals and health insurance companies operate with such impunity?”) and underdeveloped characters make this one of Cook’s lesser efforts. This screed against the state of American health care will have limited appeal to suspense fans. Agent: Erica Silverman, Trident Media Group. (Aug.)