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Review: Death Benefit by Robin Cook

Posted by bethg on

Death Benefit book coverReaders of the medical thriller genre are very familiar with Dr. Robin Cook’s work. This author of 30 previous books has updated his medical expertise with the advent of stem cell use and replacement organs in his latest effort, Death Benefit.

It is clear early in the book that Death Benefit has to do with insurance policies. Some Wall St. Wonders have developed a scheme to buy up life insurance policies of very ill people and cash in on the upcoming death benefits.

Unfortunately for them, two molecular geneticists are hard at work in a bio-safety lab at Columbia University Medical Center on organ replacement, specifically the pancreas, which will extend life expectancy for another 10 years. This, of course, throws off all the charts that had been devised to lure investors to the life insurance scam.

In the midst of all this intrigue is Pia Grazdani, a medical student at Columbia, who works closely with the researchers. She becomes directly involved in the fallout that occurs when the two opposing forces collide- research vs. greed.

As if this were not enough story line to follow, Cook introduces a mob element that stalks the lab and specifically Pia. This occurs rather late in the book as does the critical role of the Chief Medical Examiner.

If there was one shortcoming in this modern- medicine book, I would say it was uneven. As interesting as it is to hear about actuarial life insurance tables and medical jargon, the author spent an inordinate amount of time in the early part of the book on setting up the scam and not enough time on the solving of the case by the Chief Medical Examiner.

In any case, Robin Cook fans will rejoice that he has returned to the medical rotation and is in his office.

I give Death Benefit 3 ½ c.c.’s of insulin.

Happy reading from Beverly!

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Review: Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

Posted by bethg on

Death Comes to PemberleyAs much as I enjoy watching a Jane Austen work such as Pride and Prejudice, I have a hard time getting through a book of hers. I find the sentences unusually convoluted, and I often find myself re-reading passages for the sense of it all. Learning the relationships between all the characters is another obstacle.

Why on earth I chose to read Death Comes to Pemberley, by P.D. James is beyond me. Maybe it was my last attempt to read about what happened to Elizabeth and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice six years later. Told through the eyes and pen of famed mystery writer P.D. James, Death Comes to Pemberley has given me a renewed appreciation of Jane Austen.

It’s 1803 and Elizabeth and Darcy are preparing for an annual ball at their estate, Pemberley. Unfortunately, word comes to them that a terrible event has occurred in the surrounding woods, and a death has been verified. Involved in this situation are Elizabeth’s sister and her husband Wickham who are on the outs with the family.

Thus begins an investigation into the whereabouts of the staff and all those known to be in the area. There are by necessity conversations that refer to past events in the family’s history which will not ring a bell to those who are not familiar with Pride and Prejudice. In addition some characters are referred to by various names which adds more mystery to the proceedings. If you can just go with the flow, it’s great fun adding this layer to a classic tale.

In total, I felt the book was a tribute to the talents of both Jane Austen and P.D. James. The joining of the two talents is genius. Of necessity the focus is not so much on Elizabeth and Darcy. As a matter of fact I found their concluding conversation anti-climactic and not such a great ending.

Nevertheless , if you’re interested in a well-crafted English mystery with all the trappings of Downton Abbey, you must read Death Comes to Pemberley.

I give the book 3 7/8 liveried footmen.

Happy reading from Beverly!

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