Robin Cook Marker read by George Guidall
Most bestselling writers, like Hollywood waiters, are really something else. Shrinks, lawyers, opthamologists. Divorced ex-cops. Sometimes a reporter. A confused priest or two. We excuse such slippery behavior when it gives us access to technical knowledge: why kill? how do cops catch criminals? what can laws do? Which health insurance?
If one listens from cover to cover, one can learn incredible things:
Never get into a car with an armed felon. When a body dies, it is flooded with potassium; so if you want to kill someone, use a potassium derivative to cover your trail. In every bureaucratic health care administration sits a bored actuary who does nothing but dream up new ways to reduce insurance risks, to wit: eliminate individuals who are genetically marked to live long and die sick.
Cook does his “forensic pathologists have more fun” routine. It’s a good routine. But, god help us, its not technical enough. We want more long, unpronounceable medical terms. More ugly medically-specific showmanship and one-upsmanship. More perverse occupational fetishes. The rumors, the gossip, the news: what do forensic pathologists talk about, think, eat? What color lipstick do they wear? Where do they buy their CO2? their shoes? their condoms? How about those space suits? The reason Patricia Cornwall is so good is that she skulls the profession, shows us its brain, and makes it bleed. Robin Cook surveys the hospital as an institution, its political posture and position and positioning, its players, its life-cycle, its economics. At a distance. After all, he’s doing something else.
“What’s reasonable and what isn’t has little to do with decisions about health care in this country…. By a strange twist of fate, managed care companies and malpractice plaintiff attorneys suddenly found themselves in the same bed in their desire to keep any malpractice reform legislation from happening… Managed care companies didn’t want things changed so that they could be sued and the malpractice attorneys didn’t want changes that would cap pain and suffering awards or eliminate contingency fees… “