by Robin Cook
4.1 57

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Toxin by Robin Cook

Newly divorced surgeon Dr. Kim Regis is determined to remain a good father to his only son, Selden. On a special night out, Kim takes Seldon to his favorite fast-food restaurant for a feast of burgers and fries. But the good time turns to tragedy: the young boy becomes gravely ill and dies as a result of poisoning by E. coli. bacteria found in the meat.Was Seldon's death a result of shoddy food-handling practices? Or was it a sophisticated case of product tampering - by a rival fast-foot giant or a disgruntled employee? Or perhaps by someone with a score to settle with Kim? Taking a leave from his surgical practice, Kim devotes his energies to solving the mystery full time. But he immediately hits a brick walls: a code of silence more impenetrable than anything he has ever encountered in his medical career. Instead of a cold-shoulder reception, however, Kim is soon met with a boot and a fist as thugs attempt to quash his inquiry.Aided by his ex-wife, Kim pursues a trail of deadly evidence, uncovering complicity and guilt stretching from the slaughterhouse floor to the corporate boardroom. Racing against time before more are poisoned, the two come face-to-face with the shocking and elusive truth. And in their life-and-death search for answers, they rediscover the reasons they first fell in love. With trademark pulse-pounding flair, Robin Cook delivers a cutting-edge thriller, borrowing from today's fears and tomorrow's medical technology.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101191897
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/01/1999
Series: A Medical Thriller
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 79,011
File size: 502 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Dr. Robin Cook is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over thirty books and is credited with popularizing the medical thriller with his wildly successful 1977 novel, Coma. He divides his time between Boston and Florida. His most recent novels include Host, Cell, and Death Benefit.


On March 27, 1998, on AOL welcomed Robin Cook to our Authors@aol series to talk about his latest novel, TOXIN. The bestselling novelist is currently on leave from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. In the past two years, four of his novels have been made into highly successful movies for television. Three more are in production for NBC. His latest novel, TOXIN, is available at Keyword: bn.

AOLiveMC10: Welcome to America Online and AOL Live, Robin Cook.

Robin Cook: Hello, everyone. I hope there are some people that have already read TOXIN.

AOLiveMC10: Here's our first question, Robin.

Question: Why did you decide to write about E. coli bacterial poisoning? Do you think this is a real danger to the general public?

Robin Cook: I know it is a real danger to the general public. The CDC estimates that there are up to 20,000 cases every year, with hundreds of deaths.

Question: Do you think that medical thrillers are at a peak with the popularity of "ER" and "Chicago Hope"? Do you watch either of those two shows?

Robin Cook: I think medical thrillers were popular even before "ER" and "Chicago Hope." But both of these shows have certainly increased the popularity. I have seen both shows, but I don't watch them on a regular basis.

Question: I loved TOXIN! I read it in one night. You could have not written a book in a more timely fashion, what with the whole Oprah versus the meat industry situation. What is your opinion of the meat industry here in the United States? Do you think it is as bad as you portray it in TOXIN?

Robin Cook: I believe the meat industry has been asked to provide a large quantity of meat at a very low price, which they have done very well. The problem is that with this intensive methodology there is a great risk of contamination with fecal material. That's the source of the problem. I'm hoping that people will heed the warnings from the meat industry to cook the meat adequately, particularly ground meat. But I'm also hoping that the general public will make an outcry that they would like to have the choice of paying more and having meat and chicken that's uncontaminated.

AOLiveMC10: Robin, what's your opinion on irradiated foods?

Robin Cook: I have trouble with the idea of irradiation because I believe it's an attempt to fix a problem by dealing with the symptom only. I would rather think of ways to eliminate the chances of bacteria being in the meat during the slaughtering and the processing.

Question: Robin, how did you get your ideas for your medical bestsellers over other subjects? Thanks.

Robin Cook: I'm trained as a physician, and it was my discovery that there was a big gap in the general knowledge about medicine between us physicians and the general public. It was my feeling that an interesting and fun way to attempt to rectify this situation was to write novels and movies that were entertaining but also informing.

Question: Have you written medical thrillers to warn us about what really is happening in biomed?

Robin Cook: Yes. My thrillers are cautionary tales, an attempt to alter public opinion and public behavior.

Question: How are stories selected?

Robin Cook: I select the issue first -- like with TOXIN, the issue is food poisoning -- and then design the story to elucidate the subject.

Question: Any plans on bringing TOXIN to the big screen? In general, were you satisfied with the TV movies they made out of your books?

Robin Cook: I am presently negotiating a contract for TOXIN. And as for the TV movies, I have been quite satisfied. I feel the movies have stayed quite true to the issue at hand.

Question: How common is E. coli?

Robin Cook: As I mentioned in the beginning, the CDC estimates the incidents to be up to 20,000 cases per year.

Question: Will you be doing a signing tour for this book?

Robin Cook: Yes. I am presently doing a small tour, but I'm only visiting a handful of cities. I will be in St. Louis tomorrow, Naples, Florida, on Sunday, and Boston at the end of next week. And Los Angeles toward the end of April.

Question: I hear that you have some NBC TV movies coming out in the near future. Is there any truth to this rumor? Is TOXIN one of these upcoming movies?

Robin Cook: No. At the present we're negotiating for TOXIN to be a movie for the big screen.

Question: As you're the father of the medical thriller, I am curious to get your opinion on some other medical thriller authors, like Michael Palmer. Do you read a lot of your genre?

Robin Cook: I don't read a lot of the genre, although I read some books from just about each one of the authors.

Question: How true to life are the cost-cutting situations that you write about in TOXIN?

Robin Cook: The research that I did for TOXIN involved reading a number of nonfiction books, which included, specifically, a book called SPOILED by Nicols Fox that I cited at the end of TOXIN. And I truly recommend readers interested in the issue to look at this nonfiction book.

Question: What type of medical research do you do for your books?

Robin Cook: Medical research that I do for my books obviously varies from book to book. But I invariably will either talk at length to a specialist in the arena that I'm writing about or actually go into a clinical setting or medical-examiner setting and experience directly.

AOLiveMC10: Robin, do you think it is relatively safe to go out and get a burger dinner?

Robin Cook: Yes. I think it's relatively safe, provided you make sure that the burger is cooked adequately by breaking it open and making sure that it is not pink.

Question: Any chance they will rerelease COMA on the big screen? How has your view of the medical community changed since you wrote COMA so many years ago?

Robin Cook: I don't know of any specific plans to rerelease COMA, although the issue is just as cogent today as it was when COMA came out some 20 years ago. The fears that I had about the incursion of business into medicine have materialized.

Question: Are you currently practicing medicine?

Robin Cook: I don't have a private practice. But I maintain my academic medical connections. And I stay very current, so that I could go back to medicine at any time.

Question: Do you have any fears of getting sued by any organizations such as the USDA over a book like this one?

Robin Cook: After Oprah was sued, there's that worry. But what I have written is ultimately fiction.

Question: Robin, what is your opinion on imported meat?

Robin Cook: Imported meat disturbs me because the ability to track where the meat came from is even more difficult than it is in this country.

AOLiveMC10: Have you had any comments from the meat industry or the government?

Robin Cook: No, I have had no comments from either the meat industry or the government. And I don't expect any. But I should mention that Senator Orrin Hatch has read the book and is planning on giving a copy of the book to every member of Congress.

Question: How contaminated did you find the meat industry to be when researching your current novel?

Robin Cook: The data that I saw varied greatly depending upon the methodology of testing for the microbes. Some of the methods showed up to -- I believe it was 25 percent of the packages that were tested. Other tests showed much less. But there is a great variation in these results depending upon who it is that's reporting them. And once again, I refer any interested readers to the nonfiction book SPOILED.

AOLiveMC10: Robin, what other bacteria present a danger to our food supply?

Robin Cook: Salmonella, camplyobacter, cyclospora, listeriosis, and E. coli. Those are the main ones that I'm concerned about right now.

Question: Are you now a vegetarian after researching E. coli, Mr. Cook?

Robin Cook: No. I still eat meat. But I have become even more careful after doing my research than I was before. I'm particularly concerned about problems of cross-contamination in the kitchen.

Question: This is more of a medical question than a question about TOXIN. My pet bird was diagnosed with E. coli. Can a person catch the bacteria from their pet?

Robin Cook: I don't know of any case of this specific strain of E. coli being spread by a domestic pet. I'd have to defer that to a veterinarian.

Question: Have you written a script or do you only write novels?

Robin Cook: I have written a number of scripts.

Question: In general, how many hours a day do you write?

Robin Cook: When I'm actually writing a novel, I write in very concentrated periods of time, up to 12 hours a day. At that intensity, I can write a novel in about five to six weeks. But I don't start writing until I have a very extensive outline. Some of my outlines have been as large as 250 typed pages.

Question: Mr. Cook, do you feel that programs like HMOs force the issue of cutting corners in the medical field?

Robin Cook: Yes. I believe that when the bottom line is the major consideration, corners will invariably be cut.

Question: Does it frighten you that your books could actually become a reality of sorts?

Robin Cook: I have seen a lot of my books come to pass in some form or fashion. And that scares me.

AOLiveMC10: Robin, is there a threat in eating raw fruit or vegetables?

Robin Cook: Unfortunately, yes, as demonstrated by the cyclospora outbreak last year from Guatemalan raspberries. The problem with E. coli comes from contamination with bovine feces. And there have been outbreaks from such things as unpasteurized cider where the apples had been picked up from the ground.

Question: What is your specialized field of expertise in medicine?

Robin Cook: I trained in general surgery and ophthalmological surgery. I also took a course in forensic pathology prior to writing the book BLINDSIGHT.

AOLiveMC10: We have time for one more question.

Question: Are you pretty safe eating chicken?

Robin Cook: Chicken has been found to be generally the most contaminated product in the grocery store. It is my understanding that it's 90-plus percent contaminated with some serious bacteria. So I recommend that you be particularly careful with chicken in the kitchen to avoid cross-contamination.

AOLiveMC10: Robin, any closing comments?

Robin Cook: Thanks to everybody who participated, and I hope a lot of people get to read TOXIN. And I hope everybody is careful in the kitchen.

Customer Reviews

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Toxin 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 57 reviews.
ds_sweet More than 1 year ago
I may be a little partial because I myself feel I'll to an Ecoli infection at age 8, and thanks to a wonderful doctor survived with only slight lifelong side effects, but this novel is an excellent adventure into a family struck own by an invisible deadly disease and their path through diagnosis, investigation, and getting to the other side. I read the book approximately 10 years ago so I have forgotten some of the details,but I know I will be reading the rest of his novels as I continue through my To Read list.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm tired of reading books with no closure. Who does this appeal to? I end up feeling like I wasted my time reading it. Normally I'm a big fan of this genre, but it looks like I will need to find a different author. "Toxin" started out as a great story, but left me nothing but dissatisfied and irritated at the end. Don't allude to the ending. Finish the story!
judJC More than 1 year ago
I couldn't quite reading. It was one of the best he ever wrote.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading this book in Med-Tech English. A little on the descriptive side but highly addicting with great characters. I don't think I'll be having a burger any time soon.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i really liked this book. at first it was kind of slow but it got really addicting after the first 150 pages.
Tammy09 More than 1 year ago
I don't think I want to eat hamburg again after reading this book. It was well written and I could not stop reading it. I wanted to find out what happened net.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. The second I started reading, I couldn't put it down. The characters lock you in from the beginning and twists are crazy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Toxin by Robin Cook. The book vividly describes the effects and dangers of e-coli. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. I enjoyed Cook's characters and the way he applies his medical knowledge in his story. Great Read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read TOXIN in a matter of four hours because I couldn't put the book down once I started it. After reading it, I immediately got on the internet and started searching for information that the book speaks about and I was very suprised to see the amount of information there was on it. Although the book is fiction, it is based on actual documentation. Robin Cook's storytelling is superb. I recommend everyone to read this book and research the information for yourselves. You will be surprised by what you see.
Cadia More than 1 year ago
You will probably never eat a steak or hamburger without thinking about this book ....I feel that there really was a lot of truth in this fiction book.....
Guest More than 1 year ago
I started out reading Toxin in high school, it was a AWESOME book, I couldn't put the book down... and I'm not one to read books! I caught myslef reading the book in my other classes as well. A GREAT, NON-STOP THRILLER!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cook delivers a very true and shocking story that has taught me a lesson about the meat packing industry and also all these burger chains. He brings to the point that mishaps like the one discussed in this book are kept a secret. He brings to life what ever American needs to realize not all meat is safe. A Great Read.. Couldn't put the book down. Would recommend to anyone!
Guest More than 1 year ago
As always an excellent book, but unlike his other books he leaves you hanging. What happened to Kim & Tracy Reggis, Caroline Anderson ???
Guest More than 1 year ago
Overall, 'Toxin' is outstanding!!. This medical thriller exemplifies gut-wrenching action and drama along with murder, chaos, horror, and conspiracy!! Discussing and confronting the deadly virus E.coli, 'Toxin' reveals the truth behing America's corrupt meat industry. An awesome read and a real winner!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this novel, Cook has proven once again that the medical field and suspense are totally compatible with each other. I loved this book for a couple different reasons: One, I am fascinated with the battles that are constantly waged underneath our skin between our immune systems and intruders from the outer world. And second, Cook has taken everyday things we don't think about much to levels above and beyond our grasp. Cook's thorough medical expertise makes an excellent combination when implemented into a modern-day thriller, as all his novels do. 'Toxin' will make you think twice about what you eat and where it comes from.
Anonymous 8 months ago
I enjoyed this book because I think it told the story of the food chain and how things can go wrong
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hope this story is purely fiction because it scared me away from ground meat forever. Fast paced, kept me on the edge of my seat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So b
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dragged in the beginning and ended too abruptly. Were there more cases? Would have liked to know. Dr.'s behavior was too over the top at times to be realistic. All in all though, an important message, one we need to be aware of and should be very concerned about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nightpelt needs to die
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read thousands of books over the years. But this particular book i actually Hated!!! Now I know for certain that most of the reviews are phony. Put there only to entice readers to buy. This book insults the intelligent reader. A cardiac surgeon turned town idiot, turned illegal immigrant worker, turned keystone caper investigator? I never thought the day would come that I would spend time reading something so utterly stupid in my life!! E -Coli is a very serious matter. I feel it was trivilized in this pathetic novel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The ultimate brain storming.............
rellis More than 1 year ago
Great book, but I'm confused about the summary listed above, who is Seldon? Where there different versions of the book, because in the book I read, the child in question was Kim's daughter Becky.