Foreign Body (Jack Stapleton Series #8)

( 64 )

Overview

In this chilling new novel from the one and only Robin Cook, New York City medical examiners Laurie Montgomery and Jack Stapleton rush to India to help a UCLA student investigating medical tourism-and a sinister global conspiracy.

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Overview

In this chilling new novel from the one and only Robin Cook, New York City medical examiners Laurie Montgomery and Jack Stapleton rush to India to help a UCLA student investigating medical tourism-and a sinister global conspiracy.

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Editorial Reviews

San Francisco Chronicle
A top-notch thriller with the freshness and impact of his earlier efforts. . . . Critical is tightly written, and each supporting character is vivid and memorable. The novel is a credit to the medical genre, which Cook is generally thought to have created and made popular.
Publishers Weekly

Bestseller Cook (Critical) stumbles in this formulaic thriller about the timely subject of medical tourism, the trend in which U.S. citizens seek to save costs on expensive surgery through treatment overseas. At the center of the drama is Jennifer Hernandez, a fourth-year medical student at UCLA, whose grandmother has died in a New Delhi hospital following hip replacement surgery. Suspicious about the circumstances, Hernandez immediately flies to India to investigate. There she not only discovers a number of similar deaths of U.S. citizens but also runs into the one-two punch of a desperate Indian medical industry struggling to block all publicity about the deaths and a huge American HMO that wants nothing more than the widest exposure of the apparent medical missteps in the Third World. Implausible plot twists, unconvincing villains, silly dialogue and a convenient, all-too-happy ending make this one of Cook's rare weak efforts. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

When her beloved grandmother suddenly dies after routine hip surgery in India, UCLA medical student Jennifer Hernandez interrupts her studies and flies to New Delhi to claim the body. Arriving at the ultra-modern Queen Victoria Hospital, Jennifer notices problems with her grandmother's case that worry her. When a second, and then a third, sudden death of an American "medical tourist" occur over the next two days, Jennifer becomes suspicious. She turns for help to her mentor, New York City medical examiner Laurie Montgomery, who leaves immediately for India, accompanied by husband and fellow medical examiner Jack Stapleton. (Both characters appeared previously in the author's Chromosome 6 and Vector.) What the trio discovers is a vast conspiracy to undermine India's growing medical tourism industry by an American health-care firm willing to resort to blackmail, kidnapping, and murder. Cook's 27th medical thriller includes his standard brew of interesting characters, plenty of medical background, a fast pace, and increasingly unbelievable events. Fans willing to suspend disbelief will enjoy the ride. Recommended for popular fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ4/1/08.]
—A.J. Wright

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425228951
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 7/28/2009
  • Series: Jack Stapleton Series , #8
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 490,889
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Robin Cook

Dr. Robin Cook is the author of thirty previous books and is credited with popularizing the medical thriller. He divides his time between Florida and New Hampshire.

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Read an Excerpt

Prologue

October 15, 2007
Monday, 7:00 P.M.
DELHI, INDIA

Only those long-term residents of Delhi who were extraordinarily sensitive to the vicissitudes of the city's traffic patterns could tell that rush hour had peaked and was now on the downward slope. The cacophony of horns, sirens, and screeches seemed undiminished to the tortured, untrained ear. The crush appeared unabated. There were gaudily painted trucks; buses with as many riders clinging precariously to the outside and on the roof as were inside; autos, ranging from hulking Mercedes to diminutive Marutis; throngs of black-and-yellow taxis; auto rickshaws; various motorcycles and scooters, many carrying entire families; and swarms of black, aged bicycles. Thousands of pedestrians wove in and out of the stop-and-go traffic, while hordes of dirty children dressed in rags thrust soiled hands into open windows in search of a few coins. Cows, dogs, and packs of wild monkeys wandered through the streets. Over all hung a smothering blanket of dust, smog, and general haze.

For Basant Chandra, it was a typically frustrating evening commute in the city that he had lived in for his entire forty-seven years. With a population of more than fourteen million, traffic had to be tolerated, and Basant, like everyone else, had learned to cope. On this particular night he was even more tolerant than usual since he was relaxed and content from having stopped for a visit with his favorite call girl, Kaumudi.

In general, Basant was a lazy, angry, and violent man who felt cheated in this life. Growing up in an upper-caste Kshatriya family, he felt his parents had married him down with a Vaishya woman, despite his father's obtaining a management position at the in-laws' pharmaceutical firm as part of the union, while he was afforded a particularly well-paying sales manager position in place of his previous job selling Tata-brand trucks. The final blow to Basant's self-esteem came with his children, five girls, aged twenty-two, sixteen, twelve, nine, and six. There had been one boy, but his wife had miscarried at five months, for which Basant openly blamed her. In his mind,—she'd done it on purpose by overworking as a harried medical doctor, practicing internal medicine at a public hospital. He could remember the day as if it were yesterday. He could have killed her.

With such thoughts in mind, Basant pounded his steering wheel in frustration as he glided into the reserved parking slot in front of his parents' house, where he and his family lived. It was a soiled three-story concrete structure that had been painted white at some indeterminate time in the past. The roof was flat and the window frames metal. On the first floor was a small office where his wife, Meeta, occasionally saw her few private patients. The rest of the first floor housed his aging parents. Basant and his family occupied the second floor, and his younger brother, Tapasbrati, and his family were on the third.

As Basant was critically eyeing his house, which was hardly the style that he expected to be living in at this stage of his life, he became aware of a car pulling up behind him, blocking him in. Gazing in the rearview mirror, he had to squint against the car's headlights. All he could make out through the hazy glare was a Mercedes emblem.

"What the hell?" Basant spat. No one was supposed to park behind him.

He opened his door and climbed from the car with full intention of walking back and giving the Mercedes's driver a piece of his mind. But he didn't have to. The driver and his two passengers had already alighted and were approaching ominously.

"Basant Chandra?" the passenger in the lead questioned. He wasn't a big man, but he conveyed an indisputable aura of malevolent authority with his dark complexion, spiked hair, a bad-boy black leather motorcycle jacket over a tight white T-shirt, exposing a powerful, athletic body. Almost as intimidating was the driver. He was huge.

Basant took a reflexive step back as alarm bells began to sound inside his head. This was no chance meeting. "This is private property," Basant said, trying to sound confident, which he clearly wasn't.

"That's not the question," the man in the motorcycle jacket said. "The question is: Are you the piece of donkey crap called Basant Chandra?"

Basant swallowed with some difficulty. His internal alarms were now clanging with the utmost urgency. Maybe he shouldn't have hit the hooker quite so hard. He looked from the Sikh driver to the second passenger, who'd proceeded to pull a gun from his jacket pocket. "I'm Basant Chandra," Basant managed. His voice squeaked, almost unrecognizable to himself. "What's the problem?"

"You're the problem," the man in the motorcycle jacket said. He pointed over his shoulder. "Get in the car. We've been hired to talk some sense into you. We're going for a little ride."

"I . . . I . . . I can't go anyplace. My family is waiting for me."

"Oh, sure!" the apparent leader of the group said with a short, cynical laugh. "That's exactly what we have to talk about. Get in the car before Subrata here loses control and shoots you, which I know he'd prefer to do."

Basant was now visibly trembling. He desperately looked from one threatening face to the other, then down to the gun in Subrata's hand.

"Should I shoot him, Sachin?" Subrata asked, raising his silenced automatic pistol.

"See what I mean?" Sachin questioned, spreading his hands palms up. "Are you going to get into the car or what?"

Wanting to flee off into the darkness but terrified to do so lest he be shot in the back, Basant forced himself forward, wondering if he should run out into the middle of the congested street. Unable to make up his near-paralyzed mind, he found himself at the black Mercedes, where Subrata opened the passenger-side rear door with his free hand. Subrata forced Basant's head down and his torso into the car before walking around and climbing in on the other side. He was still holding on to his gun and made certain Basant saw that he was.

Without another word, Sachin and the driver climbed into the front seat. The car pulled out into the street as fast as the congested traffic would allow.

"To the dump?" the driver asked.

"To the dump, Suresh," Sachin agreed.

Acutely aware of the firearm, Basant at first was too terrified to say anything at all, but after ten minutes he was more afraid of not saying anything. His voice wavered at first but then gained some semblance of strength. "What is this all about?" he questioned. "Where are you taking me and why?"

"We're taking you to the dump," Sachin said, turning around. "It's where we all agreed you belonged."

"I don't understand," Basant blurted. "I don't know you people."

"That's going to change, starting tonight."

Basant felt a modicum of hope. Not that he was happy about the prospect, but Sachin was suggesting a long-term relationship, meaning they weren't going to shoot him. As a drug-sales manager, it crossed his mind that these people might be interested in some kind of drugs. The problem was that Basant had access only to drugs his in-laws' firm made, which were mostly antibiotics, and this kind of shakedown for antibiotics seemed extreme.

"Is there some way I can help you people?" Basant asked hopefully.

"Oh, yeah! For sure!" Sachin responded without elaborating.

They drove in silence for a while. Finally, Basant spoke up. "If you would just tell me, I'll be happy to help in any way I can."

Sachin swung around and glared at Basant for a beat but didn't speak. Any slight diminution of Basant's encompassing panic evaporated. His trembling returned with a vengeance. His intuition assured him this was not going to end well. When the driver braked to a crawl behind one bullock cart passing another, Basant considered opening the car door, leaping out, and sprinting off into the dark, dusty haze. A glance into Subrata's lap at the nestled gun resulted in a quick response.

"Don't even think about it," Subrata said, as if reading Basant's mind.

They turned off the main road after another fifteen minutes and headed into the enormous landfill.Through the windows they could see small fires with flames licking up through the mounds of trash, sending spirals of smoke up into the sky. Children could be seen scampering over the debris, looking for food or anything of even questionable value. Rats the size of large rabbits were caught in the headlights as they scurried across the roadway.

Pulling up between several story-high piles of garbage, the driver made a three-point turn to direct the car back toward the way they'd come. He left the motor running. All three of the toughs climbed out. The driver opened the door for Basant. When Basant didn't respond, the driver reached in and, grabbing a handful of his kurta, dragged him stumbling from the car. Basant couldn't help choking from the smoke and stench. Without letting him go, the driver continued to drag him into the illumination provided by the headlights, where he released him roughly. Basant did all he could do to stay on his feet.

Sachin, who was pulling a heavy glove on his right hand, walked up to Basant and, before Basant could react, punched him viciously in the face, sending him stumbling backward, losing his balance, and falling into the fetid garbage. With his ears ringing and blood dripping from his nose, he rolled over onto his stomach and tried to get up, but his hands sank into the loose trash. At the same time he felt broken glass cut into the flesh of his left arm. He was yanked by the ankle from the soft garbage out onto the firmly packed truck track. He was then forcibly kicked in the stomach, causing him to lose his wind in the process.

It took Basant several minutes to catch his breath. When he had, Sachin reached down and grabbed the front of his kurta and yanked him to a sitting position. Basant raised his arms in an attempt to try to shield his face from another blow, but the blow didn't materialize. Hesitantly, he opened his eyes, looking up into the cruel face of his attacker.

"Now that I have your attention," Sachin snarled, "I want to tell you a few things. We know about you and what kind of piece of shit you are. We know what you've been doing to your oldest daughter, Veena, since she was six. We know you've been keeping her in line by threatening to do the same to her four younger sisters. And we know what you've been doing to her mother."

"I've never—" Basant began but was interrupted by a vicious slap to the face.

"Don't even try to deny it, you bastard, or I'll beat you to a pulp and leave you here for the rats and the wild dogs to eat."

Sachin glared down at the cowering Basant before continuing. "This isn't some kind of trial. We know what I'm saying is the truth, you slimy bastard. And I'm going to tell you something. This is a warning! If you ever touch one of your daughters inappropriately or your wife in anger, we will kill you. It's that simple. We've been hired to do it, and knowing what I do about you, I'd just as soon do it and get it over with. So I actually hope you give me the excuse. But that's the message. Any questions? I want to be certain you understand."

Basant nodded. A glimmer of hope appeared in his terrified mind. This current nightmare was only a warning.

Sachin unexpectedly slapped Basant once more, sending the man onto his back, his ears ringing and his nose rebleeding.

Without another word, Sachin took off his leather glove, glared down at Basant for a beat, waved for his companions to follow, and returned to the black Mercedes.

Sitting up with a sense of utter relief when he realized he was being left, Basant proceeded to get to his feet. A moment later he had to leap back into the loose trash and out of the way as the large sedan surged toward him, missing him by inches. Basant stared after the goons' car while the red taillights receded into the smoke and haze. Only then did he become truly aware of the darkness and stench surrounding him, and the facts that his nose and arm were bleeding, that he'd gathered a small audience of silent, staring landfill urchins, and that the rats were inching closer. With sudden new fear and revulsion, Basant struggled back onto his feet, extricated himself from the soft trash and regained the firmness of the track, all the while grimacing from the pain in his side from the kick he'd suffered. Although it was very difficult to see, because of the moonless night, he hurried forward, hands outstretched like a blind man. He had a long way to walk before reaching a road that would have transportation. It wasn't pleasant and was definitely scary, but at least he was alive.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 64 )
Rating Distribution

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(15)

4 Star

(10)

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(20)

2 Star

(9)

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(10)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 64 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 23, 2012

    BORING AND SLOW

    DISAPPOINTED IN THIS BOOK . TOO MUCH FILLER .

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 16, 2010

    Glad Cook is back to writing good med mystery

    it's back to the old Robin Cook. The one who wrote COMA. This book is a good medical mystery as well as drama.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Medical Tourism thriller by Robin Cook

    Author of over two dozen medical thrillers, Cook has taken on the medical tourism industry in "Foreign Body." As in all his books, we are invited to view the dark side of medicine, so if you are considering traveling overseas to get a kidney transplant or a hip replacement, think again. Just kidding... maybe... ;-)

    The sinister plot revolves around the untimely passing of a sixtyish grandmother after undergoing hip surgery in India. The medical student granddaughter finds out about her loss while watching CNN in California only hours after granny has died. Medical tourism is the culprit behind the death (and two others),with American medical company employees out to discredit surgeries performed in other countries in order to keep business firmly in the USA. We know who is at fault from the beginning, but the fun is in seeing how the granddaughter travels to India, unravels the crime and how the criminals try to cover their tracks. We aren't sure until nearly the end how it will all work out.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 2, 2008

    couldn't bring myself to finish it

    I usually love all books written by Robin Cook. This is, to date, the most boring book ever! The characters are annoying and artificial, the plot is unoriginal, too long and meandering, I found myself flipping pages just to find something interesting! The book makes me so sleepy I can't bring myself to finish it! A far cry from awesome books like coma and seizure! Robin cook should quit while he is ahead.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    The story line is fast-paced and filled with action

    At the Queen Victoria Hospital in New Delhi, India, nurse Veena Chandra enters the room of sixty-four year old American medical tourist Maria Hernandez, who came here for a hip replacement as the costs are much less than in New York including travel expense. Veena injects a poison killing the woman as part of a deal she made to keep her mom and sisters safe from her abusive father. Afterward, Veena visits Nurses International Chief Cal Morgan to tell him she did the deed, but the patient thanked her before dying. Veena shocks Cal by having sex with him afterward saying she just wanted to prove her father wrong about someone knowing about her father¿s molestation secret and wanting her before she commits suicide.------ UCLA medical student Jennifer Hernandez is at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center when CNN reports the death of a Marisa Hernandez of Queens. She calls her malingering dad who says Maria is in India having a hip replacement. Later that day she confirms her beloved grandma died in India. Knowing her dad would use his bad back as an excuse Jennifer travels to India to bring her beloved grandma home. However, there she begins to learn of other odd deaths of medical tourists she calls her mentor New York City medical examiner Dr. Laurie Montgomery who along with her spouse Dr. Jack Stapleton come to New Delhi only to learn there is something evil going on at modern Queen Victoria Hospital and if they are not careful they will be the next to die.-------- This fast-paced medical thriller comes from the headlines as Americans going to India for medical procedures has become a major ¿tourist¿ industry. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action while also slapping at the system of high cost of non health care in America. Although why the Astoria sexagenarian had to be murdered is explained late leaving a gap for too long, Robin Cook provides a powerful look at the newest health trend going overseas for operations and cures.-------- Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2014

    Tiresome

    Same story, different country.
    Hit men tying to kill a diffeent person but still, hit men again.....
    Also who cares Laurie gets pregnant? She is a most annoying character.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2012

    Very disappointing

    The most disappointing thing about this book were the Indian characters. Cook had them speaking and using slang as if they were Americans. It just didn't fit and made everything unbelievable.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2011

    Not bad

    I have read much better books by him. Somewhat slow to unravel but yet interesting enough to keep u reading

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Don't even bother!

    I didn't care or know any of the characters. The plot was boring. Sentence structure was simple. Word choice was poor. You could have said in two paragraphs what Cook spent a whole book saying about medical tourism and India. I should have gave up when I was still bored at the half way point, but I had paid for the book, and thought surely Cook's story would warm up. It did not. Those of you (like me) who loved Coma will not recognize the Robin Cook that wrote this book. Don't waste your money or time on Foreign Body. Shame on you, Mr. Cook!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    just ok

    this book to me is just ok. it was kind of slow moving and at some points i wanted to stop reading it. i will give this author another try though

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2008

    Not Interested

    Since I am in the medical field, I have always enjoyed Robin Cook's novels but the last several he has written have been dry, humorless and boring. After being disappointed so many timess, I took a chance on this one because the plot seemed so up to date. A medical resident stumbling around India trying to solve hospital murders on her own was too much to believe. I stopped reading 3/4 through the book and didn't finish it. I have now sworn off any future books written by Robin Cook.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2012

    pretty good

    Nice read

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 14, 2012

    Four out of Five Stars for Foreign Body

    I'm a long-time Robin Cook fan, having bought every book he's written in the medical mystery genre - this book, however, didn't really grab me as quickly as his others. The characters lacked his usual luster and the story moved slowly for the first third of the book, though you'll recognize a couple of strong characters out of one of his previous books and they add considerably to the weight of the novel. Eventually the story's strength picks up and there's more of an on-the-edge sense to what's transpiring so it does become a page turner and hard to put down. I would recommend this even for its slow beginning.

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  • Posted March 2, 2011

    Readable, but not his best

    This book was good enough.I've read a few Robin Cook books and this was not his best. It was readable and enjoyable enough,though. I don't normally care how realistic a story is. As long as it's entertaining, it's okay with me.Maybe it's just my friends, but I just don't see it as realistic for all these people to just be able to take off work at the spur of the moment to jet off to India on the mere suspicion of foul play.Plus, people stealing bodies and doing rogue autopsies without getting caught.Don't think so.
    I think Robin Cook is a good writer but was just going through the motions on this one.

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  • Posted February 19, 2011

    An okay book

    This is an okay book. I love medical mystery type books. But, at the end of this particular book, Cook seemed to get anxious to be finished with it. The end just sort of came. There was no cleaning up of loose ends or explanations of what happened to the "guilty accomplices". Overall I like the book but the end was a huge disappointment.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2009

    Typical Robin Cook pageturner

    A typical Robin Cook novel, with some medical info and plotline, but not a lot of substance. The setting was more interesting than some, since it was mostly in India. Otherwise a fairly formulaic, and not very believable, novel.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 4, 2009

    tour of India

    The best part was the info on places in India. Interesting concept for the plot line but never felt this was a must read. Have been a fan for a long time but the books are becoming ho hum.

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  • Posted April 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Medical Tourism subject probed into...

    Robin Cook with this novel has not exceeded the thriller expectations of his readers. The plot seems to be dragging and beat around the medical tourism effects for both US & developing countries like India, Thailand. There seems to be plain description of this topic throughout the novel and the characters do not heed to driving the suspense factor much. There is more or less no correlation between the title of the novel & the novel's plot. I didn't find Foreign Body novel so enthralling as much other titles by the same author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2008

    A Dud

    Promising premise, but infinitely longer and meandering than necessary. Characters (especially Jennifer and Neil) plastic and artificial. Uneven plot lines. Belongs on the bottom of the heap of Cook's books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2008

    Good Book

    This was a good book, there were a few words that I had to break out the medical dictionary for but other than that it is nice for a book to be both stimulating and a joy to read

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