Charlatans: Robin Cook
Fraudulent or ignorant medical practices are at the helm of this medical thriller. Doctors are supposed to take an oath that will protect patients, care for them but what happens when someone is ignorant, pretends to have specific medical skills or does not possess the qualifications or knowledge needed to perform the correct medical skills or procedures. Questionable operating procedures, questionable diagnosis and questionable diagnostic tests come into play as health fraud is not uncommon today and some who pretend to be skilled are in it for profit, money or power.
Dr. Noah Rothauser takes pride in his new position of chief surgery resident of Boston Memorial Hospital a teaching hospital. Bruce Vincent is about to undergo hernia surgery but before entering the operating area of signing in for the pre-op evaluation, tests and filling out the forms needed, he goes to work as the head of security in the park lot filling in for a missing employee causing the surgery doctor, Dr. Mason to wonder where he is and the events that follow will start a chain reaction that will rock this hospital and its staff.
Noah is naïve and definitely oblivious to Dr. Ava London the anesthesiologist on three cases that involved deaths in the operating theater. A man who had a hernia operation, a 12 year boy who needed his appendix removed and an overweight woman who had a leg injury. Each time he defended her and said the outcome was not her fault yet realizing that she fumbled with certain vital lifesaving equipment during one operation. She is elusive, odd and spends her day incognito on facebook and other online media outlets using different names hoping to gain recognition. She also claims to consult for a nutritional supplement council and is always at their beckon call and is constantly making trips to Washington D.C. at a moments notice. Dr. William Mason a well renowned narcissistic surgeon wants her out and fired for personal reasons. Things spiral out of control when Noah becomes overly obsessed with Ava but yet something about her does not ring true. Added in we have Keyon and George who works for a security firm called ABC Security and happens to be Ava’s henchman. Anyone that gets in their way is eliminated as several innocent people learn. Ava is a serious fraud but then so is Noah in a lot of respects. Ava works, as a lobbyist for the Nutritional Supplement Council and Noah dislikes them and thinks their products are more harmful than helpful but she is in deep. Ava’s history and education become circumspect and Noah hires a Private Investigator to delve into her past, childhood, education and medical credentials and professional history. What he finds is that she is a total fraud, not the person she appears to be and very clever at hiding her tracks and her past. Mason hates London who has uncovered things about his past he would rather not have divulged and when Noah is suspended for fraudulent things coming out in his doctoral thesis he learns just how far she will go to get what she wants even it means ruining his career. The assassins or Keyon and George work for her and although Noah worked his way up in Harvard Medical School there were things that he did he would rather stay hidden. Author Robin Cook’s research into charlatans is extensive and if you read the author’s notes you will learn that this is not uncommon in the medical profession. There are many fake doctors who get their information from the Internet and forged documents, licenses and school records fudged is not uncommon. There is a need for change the author states when you read the final notes on pages 636 and 637. London is odd, uses the social media to hide her real identity and enlightens readers and Noah to how she recreated her new life, identity and much more. When things get even further out of control Noah realizes that someone broke into his apartment, hacked his computer and when he tries to leave he’s picked up by the two thus working for Ava. Bruce Vincent, concurrent surgeries noted at the problem, a man following him on the street, operating rooms with the latest in equipment and the doctors rarely faltering until Ava London comes on staff and all of a sudden things change.
Realizing that he is becoming too attached to Ava and when she disappears at the drop of a penny, he realizes that he needs to learn more about her and what he learns from his private investigator sends him to the college and the town where she supposedly got her degree and went to school. The library has articles about Ava London but just who is or was Ava London? Ava London claims she was harassed and bullied in school but did she do it back and to did she and two others torture? Why?
The Residency Advisory Board placed him on suspension and then had the task of deciding whether he breached any more protocols. Are his morals and ethic above board or should he remain suspended or fired? The history of his family is brought to light his mother is in a facility with Alzheimer’s and his sister is in another one with a chromosomal abnormality. The seesaw relationship between Ava and Noah is like an up and down ride with it never balancing out. But, Noah calls his friend Leslie and when he relates what he thinks and what he knows she tells him to beware of Ava but why doesn’t he listen.
The final reveals are frightening when you hear Ava’s admission of what she did to Noah, what he better do in order to be reinstated and why he has to go along with supporting the Nutritional Supplement Council. Will he succumb to her threats? Will she have her henchman rid the world of one more person? The ending is a sheer surprise and the final fate of Ava you will have to decide for yourself as the end scene lets readers know that this is not over and those involved just might see the light of day and who knows what is next for the medical field if this continues. As the author states in his notes on the last page: ask yourself when choosing a doctor and checking him out: Did your doctor truly get the training he/her so ostentatiously advertises with all those easily reproduced diplomas hanging on the office wall or is you doctor a CHARLATAN! Before you allow the doctor to operate and the anesthesiologist is about to put you out make sure that you understand what you are being given, make sure that your doctor is someone you feel you can trust and make sure that you are not a victim of a Charlatan!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine/MJ network