Robin Cook Administers a New Nightmare with ‘Charlatans’ [REVIEW]


“We’re all becoming narcissistic Charlatans to one degree or another.” (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford, U.S. Air Force)

The master and creator of the medical thriller is back with a chilling new novel that once again makes readers take a closer look at anesthesia, hospitals, and the physicians who work there. In Charlatans, Dr. Robin Cook proves that bad doctors do exist and begs the question: just how much can you trust the people who manage your healthcare?


G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Bruce Vincent loves working at the prestigious Boston Memorial Hospital. Gregarious and attentive, he knows practically the entire staff and everyone likes him, even snobby physicians with a god complex. So when Bruce finds out that he needs a routine procedure, he asks world-class surgeon Dr. William Mason to perform it, and much to everyone’s surprise, he agrees.

On the day of the procedure, Bruce runs late and when he is finally admitted and taken to a new high-tech “hybrid operating room of the future” for surgery, he is greeted by Dr. Ava London, a staff anesthesiologist who assures him that everything should run smoothly. Except, it doesn’t. Not at all. First, Mason has London administer the anesthesia too soon. Second, Mason runs behind schedule because he’s working in three OR’s at once. Finally, minutes into the surgery, it quickly becomes evident that Bruce wasn’t altogether forthcoming with critical information and suddenly an otherwise healthy man is dead on the table.

Enter Noah Rothauser. He’s the newly minted super chief surgical resident, the man who is in charge of handling everything from managing surgical schedules to investigating patient deaths and running the bimonthly surgical Morbidity and Mortality Conference. In the wake of Bruce’s death, Rothauser suspects that Mason is negligent and guilty of tampering with the patient’s record after the fact, even if the egotistical surgeon is quick to blame London for Bruce’s demise.

As the death toll continues to climb, Rothauser takes a closer look at the number of anesthesia-related deaths that have occurred at the hospital, scrutinizing everyone involved, even London. As he peels back the layers to this complicated situation, he questions whether London is even who she appears to be after discovering her multiple alternate social media personas online. As Rothauser struggles to ascertain which doctor is telling the truth and who has culpability, he must fight valiantly to save his job and countless lives in the process.

With Charlatans, Cook once again reaffirms his place as the reigning king of the medical thriller. Although he strikes terror in the hearts of anyone who may ever find themselves going to a hospital, he manages to balance that fear with the knowledge that good doctors are still out there willing to fight for the lives of their patients. Most of all, he makes readers contemplate just how well they listen to their physicians and how much of a role they must take in managing their healthcare.

Readers who haven’t read a Robin Cook novel before are in for a treat. Although Charlatans does deal with complex hospital politics, fascinating medical procedures, and thought-provoking moral dilemmas, it is first and foremost a thriller. Written in clear, comprehensive language and populated with riveting, relatable characters, the story tightly weaves around weighty subject matter to masterfully manipulate our emotions and raise our blood pressure as Cook gleefully brings us to the brink of the abyss and threatens to push us over the edge.

For those who can’t get enough of authors like Michael Palmer, Tess Gerritsen, Kathy Reichs and Patricia Cornwell, it is time to rediscover the man who started it all. Clear your calendar and pour the espresso. With Robin Cook’s Charlatans, he proves that the doctor is back and he has a delicious new nightmare prepared that is guaranteed to keep readers up until the wee hours of the morning.


Robin Cook

Robin Cook
(Photo by John Earle)

Robin Cook, M.D. is the number one New York Times and international bestselling author of HostCellDeath Benefit, and Cure, among others. His first novel, The Year of the Intern, was written underwater aboard a nuclear submarine. When his wildly popular second novel, Coma, debuted five years later in 1977, the medical thriller genre was born. To date, more than 100 million copies of his books have been sold worldwide.

Almost a dozen theatrical movies, television movies, and miniseries have been made from Cook’s work. In 2009, he created and produced with Michael Eisner the world’s first full-length V-cast movie in 50 three-minute segments as a prequel to his book, Foreign BodyRecently, Cook has teamed up with several successful businessmen to form Cook-Blackwood Productions to make feature movies and TV series from his work.

In 2014, Cook received the Literary Legend Award and the Robert B. Parker Mystery Writer’s Award. He has also received the James McConaughy Award (2012); the Author of Vision Award (2002); and a Distinguished Alumni Award from his alma mater, Wesleyan University (1982). In 2004 he was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. by President George W. Bush. He currently serves on the Board of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Cook graduated summa cum laude from Wesleyan University with a major in chemistry and a distinction in government. He then went on to attend the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. After surgical residency training, he was drafted into the Navy where he attended submarine school and navy diving school. Later, he was transferred to the Deep Submergence Systems Project (Sea Lab), where he trained as a navy aquanaut medical officer.

When Cook completed his military service and was discharged from the Navy as a Lieutenant Commander, he began his second residency in ophthalmology at Harvard. Afterward, he matriculated as a full-time student at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government while simultaneously opening a private practice of ophthalmology in Marblehead, Massachusetts, and accepting a clinical position at Harvard Medical School to teach residents and to see patients at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Cook is also the cofounder of an Internet software company, a partner of a New Hampshire sports complex, an investor in a New Hampshire ski area, and he has significant real estate holdings. In the past, he has also partnered in a restaurant and in a construction company. Currently, he is partnering in the start-up of another restaurant.

Born in Brooklyn, New York on May 4, 1940, Cook grew up in Queens and later in Leonia, New Jersey. Today he divides his time between Florida, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. He invites his readers to visit his home on the web at and to like him on Facebook.

By Robin Cook
448 pgs. G.P. Putnam’s Sons. $27.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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