by Robin Cook Pan Macmillan, HK$105
Robin Cook is minting money with a simple formula. Pick a contemporary medical conundrum. Use it as the hub of a thriller. Write a story with efficient if readable prose. Slap a one-word title on the cover: Crisis, Marker, Seizure and, most famously, Coma. I am being unfair: six of Cook's 27 novels have two words in the title and one (The Year of the Intern) has five. Count them. Critical centres on Angela Dawson, a successful medical entrepreneur. 'No stranger to adversity and anguish', she suffered an affluent, middle-class upbringing (she did, like, totally have to live in New Jersey), a wrecked marriage and a failed business. Then she sets up Angels Healthcare and all is swell - except that her daughter wants a belly-button ring. 'I mean, you let me pierce my ears,' Michelle wails. Then, disaster. Drug-resistant bacteria not only kill several of Angela's patients, they also cause her share prices to plummet (God forbid, part two). Cue Jack Stapleton and Laurie Montgomery, medical examiners who take on Angela's case, little suspecting the can of bacteria they will open. Mixed metaphors aside, Critical is more fun than a barrel of brain surgeons.