The novel finds Cook showing off his knowledge of medicine and medical procedures while following the rather familiar path of a thriller. To its credit it manages to toss in several different significant characters, who contribute to the crescendo to a climax of coincidences. The final chapter, unfortunately, takes us from the trappings of a cops-and-robbers series for television to a painful exercise in exposition through conversation (not unlike the scrawl at the end of those biopics telling us what happened to most of the principal characters). The epilogue makes things worse with a segue into a budding romance not unlike what one might expect from daytime soaps.
Despite serving well as a bestselling piece of pulp whose pages you could flip through without having to exercise your brain too much, the novel suffers from a poor editorial job. Anyone who lets a writer -- even a mainstream, bestselling one -- get away with using a word like guesstimation is a lazy slob who needs to find another job. Mercifully, the abuse of literally is limited (as if to make up for this, one finds the abuse blooming in Intervention).
One cannot deny the need for Cook to wax eloquent when it comes to the medical aspects of the story, since that is what defines his brand of fiction. One must, however, take issue to just how intelligent the writer assumes the reader to be. Consider the following extract:
Let us choose to ignore the great disservice this long curvy sentence does to the full-stop. Let us also ignore how clumsily the writer has mixed exposition into an otherwise simple sentence. What is most annoying is how Cook pauses to explain what a femur is, he chooses to offer no such guidance for menisci. I know what a femur is, thank you very much. If you wanted to explain every medical term in that sentence, you should have explained menisci as well. I must also note that the generosity on display with this sentence is short-lived. After having realised, presumably, that several pages had been wasted in exposition instead of moving the plot forward, Cook and his editor(s) decided to let the medical jargon remain jargon, thus alienating the reader and allowing him/her to flip the pages even faster.
The reader is not the only one at the receiving end of condescension. Consider the following extract from a conversation between two doctors. Surely one would expect less exposition between two people when talking about matters germane to their occupation:
Did I mention apostrophe abuse? How about inconsistent apostrophe abuse? Consider the following:
Physician assistants are, for reasons unknown, more special than medical exainers; based on other plural forms seen in the book, they seem to be more important than HMOs. Unfortunately, in the paperback edition, this superiority is asserted only page 396; until that point, the apostrophe was mercifully spared when PAs were mentioned.
Sloppy. Very sloppy.