Critical by Robin Cook read by George Guidall

For years the facile, monarch-note like introductory blurbs of audiobooks have been aimed at delayed airline passengers looking forward to a two or three hour seat in a jet on hot tarmac. As nonlocalizably uninformative as the pilot, but more or less referential.

The introduction to Robin Cook’s Critical marks a new slovenly low for the Recorded Books label, with its mistaken reference to “Jack’s heart operation”. (Dear editors: There is nothing wrong with Jack’s heart. Not in this book. It’s a different body part being operated on. Really. )

One sure sign that a publisher, or a civilization, is going down the drain is when it’s references are wrong. Another is when medics start talking about an innate sense of ethics. Ethics is a form of action, a set of practices and reflections based on habit and training. Ethics is not a sense. Nor is it innate — in the newborn –or in the coat closet. It is not inside anything because it is not a body, not a thing that occupies space.

But if it did occupy space, it would not be space in New Jersey, where Robin Cook has been spending too much time and where Critical gets its goombahs, its bad guys, its evil. The good guys are of course in New York, doing autopsies, solving crimes and playing Dick and Jane, medical examiners….

Somewhere in between are the doctors. And the entourage of bureaucrats who settle into their attached positions like feudal serfs, and the moneylenders, insurers and staph infections which prop up and support the institution of medicine in a big city.