Jennifer Hernandez, a fourth year medical student at UCLA, suspicious about certain details of the death of her grandmother in a New Delhi hospital, flies to India to investigate and to claim the body. Ultimately, Hernandez discovers that her grandmother has in fact been murdered by a nurse employed by "Nurses International", the subsidiary of an enormous, profit-hungry HMO that is intent on making a burgeoning Indian medical industry appear to be dangerous and incompetent. It seems that the meteoric growth of medical tourism in India has begun to make a substantial and rapidly deepening dent in the profits of the American HMO as it watches many of its patients travel to India for less expensive alternative solutions to their medical woes.
And here I thought Robin Cook was supposed to be writing medical "thrillers". Sadly, "Foreign Body" was anything but!
The list of what was wrong with "Foreign Body" is lengthy indeed - cartoonish villain stereotypes, atrociously stilted dialogue, an unconvincing sappy ending, a complete neglect of the broader political issues that should have been explored in much greater depth and an utter lack of suspense in that the means, the methods, the opportunities and the perpetrators were completely disclosed virtually from the outset of the novel.
The list of what was entertaining is all too short! At least Cook has done a reasonably interesting job of talking about the endlessly fascinating aspects of what one would be likely to encounter in a tourist trip to such an exotic destination as New Delhi. He's also taken us on a faintly amusing side trip through the hormonal nightmares that fertility treatments can wreak on a patient of the female persuasion. But this is certainly damning with faint praise as it only means the difference between an award of one star versus the zero star rating that I was toying with.
Weak gruel indeed! Not recommended and I hope not representative of Cook's efforts in the future.