Acceptable Risk

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Penguin, Jan 1, 1996 - Fiction - 388 pages
2 Reviews
Prozac-like drugs are being prescribed not only for their original purposes but increasingly to alter individual personalities to currently valued norms. With dead-on accuracy and the prescience of tomorrow's headlines, Robin Cook explores the perilous intersection where fame and unfathomable lucre waylay and seduce the very best and brightest of those sworn to do no harm. When neuroscientist Edward Armstrong begins dating Kimberly Stewart, a descendant of a woman who was hanged as a witch at the time of the Salem witch trials, he takes advantage of the opportunity to delve into a pet theory: that the "devil" in Salem in 1692 had been a hallucinogenic drug inadvertently consumed with mold-tainted grain. In an attempt to prove his theory, Edward grows the mold he believes responsible from samples taken from the Stewart estate. In a brilliant designer-drug transformation, the poison becomes Ultra, the next generation of antidepressants with truly startling therapeutic capabilities. Acceptable Risk is a story of quest: a researcher's quest for the ultimate drug and a woman's quest for self-understanding. Unbeknownst to either person, the two seemingly separate quests collide with devastating consequences.

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I have read most, if not all, of Robin Cook MD's book. I like them much. I like the way he takes his crime scenes down to the cellular level and beyond, hiding them so well that only a most highly educated and morally integrated elite can discern the touch of evil upon a victim's life. The reader observes all. The crime descriptions are clinical rather than gory (as with Michael Palmer MD, another hospital horror writer).
There are actually some elements of sly humor in his stories. I would alternate between laughter, then horror at my amusement (much like the reaction to Beth Henley's "Crimes of the Heart"). Cook's criminals sometimes receive their just desserts.
Robin Cook MD uses his books to educate his American readers about the politics and pressures in the medical field in the hope that effective legislation will be developed and passed. This might prevent the AMA from becoming the next global tyranny in history.
The other interesting thing about Cook is that he has been "currently on leave from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary" from about the time his first books were published; that is over thirty years now. Every time I read that line on a jacket cover, I wonder what it signifies.


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About the author (1996)

Robin Cook, M.D., is the author of more than thirty books and is credited with popularizing the medical thriller with his wildly successful first novel, Coma. He divides his time among Florida, New Hampshire, and Boston. His most recent novels include Host, Cell, and Nano.

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