cover image Night Shift

Night Shift

Robin Cook. Putnam, $29 (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-54018-3

In the opening chapter of bestseller Cook’s so-so 12th medical thriller featuring married physicians Jack Stapleton and Laurie Montgomery (after 2019’s Genesis), an unidentified attacker kills internist Susan Passero in her car at the Manhattan Memorial Hospital parking garage by injection. That eliminates any doubt as to whether Susan was murdered, thus making New York City medical examiner Jack’s efforts to determine the cause of death unsuspenseful. Susan was Laurie’s doctor and her “oldest and closest friend,” so when Jack learns of Susan’s death, he’s determined to discover what caused an apparent fatal sudden cardiac event. His digging reveals a possible motive for murder: Susan had been examining the criteria her hospital’s Mortality and Morbidity Committee had been using to select cases to review. His inquiry, aided by Laurie, who happens to be his boss as the chief medical examiner, follows predictable lines, including a contrived denouement. Given that Cook has spent multiple books trying to establish his leads’ devoted relationship, Jack’s telling Laurie “your dear friend Sue Passero is downstairs in the cooler needing to be autopsied” may strike readers as a tad callous. Even series fans may be disappointed. Agent: Erica Silverman, Trident Media. (Dec.)