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Contagion Mass Market Paperback – December 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; Reissue edition (December 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425155943
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425155943
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1.3 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #552,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When not one but three different extremely rare diseases kill several patients at a New York hospital, forensic pathologist Jack Stapleton suspects it's more than just coincidence. He thinks there's a connection between the appearance of the mysterious microbes responsible for the deaths and the HMO that owns the hospital--the same HMO that once destroyed his flourishing medical practice. Is Americare deliberately killing off its sickest patients--those who cost the most money to treat? Or is there an even more sinister motive behind the strange goings-on at Manhattan General, not to mention the attempts on Jack's life? And what is beautiful Terese Hagen, the hard-driving creative director of a Madison Avenue ad agency, doing in the middle of this slightly muddled, but still engrossing, tale of greed, medicine, and mayhem? Like Michael Crichton, whose Andromeda Strain remains the classic in the genre, Cook is sometimes heavy-handed when it comes to character development, and his fulminations about the dangers of managed care often get in the way of the plot. Still, Contagion will make you think twice about taking your next case of flu to the ER instead of your own bed. --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In Cook's numerous best-selling medical thrillers, the nasty microbes and lethal diseases are never as loathsome as the greedy villains who spread illness for profit. Here, a cynical forensics doctor suspects that a for-profit medical firm is murdering its more costly subscribers. A Literary GuildR main selection.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Doctor and author Robin Cook is widely credited with introducing the word 'medical' to the thriller genre, and over twenty years after the publication of his breakthrough novel, Coma, he continues to dominate the category he created. Cook has successfully combined medical fact with fantasy to produce a over twenty-seven international bestsellers, including Outbreak (1987), Terminal (1993), Contagion (1996), Chromosome 6 (1997) and Foreign Body (2008).

Customer Reviews

I've read most of Robin Cook's books more than once and this is one of the greatest!
Chris Dablow
Halfway through the book, you think you know who done it, but you're probably only half right, as it's a pretty big surprise toward the end.
C W Breaux
The characters are two-dimensional, and the plot, despite being wildly improbable, somehow manages to be predictable.
Robert H. Stine Jr.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Mr D. on November 17, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Manhatten General Hospital seems to be a dangerous place to be hospitalized in. During a ninety-six hour period nine people have succumbed to not one, not two but three extremely rare diseases, especially for New York City. Jack Stapleton is the New York city Medical Examiner who discovered these occurrences in the course of performing autopsies upon the victims and while no one has questioned the natural occurrence of these deadly, highly infectious diseases, Jack eventually comes to the conclusion that these events are too much of a coincidence to be accidental.

Contagion was written by a prolific writer named Robin Cook. If you are not familiar with Cook you should be. He is the unquestioned king of the medical mystery/suspense genre, having written well over twenty such books, dating back to the seventies. If you happen to remember the scary movie Coma, that was Robin Cook.

With not one but three different extremely rare pathogens killing patients at the New York hospital, Stapleton suspects it's more than just coincidence. But Jack can't seem to get anybody's attention, especially at the Hospital itself where the management even resents and has barred his presence. This leads Jack to suspect there may be a connection between the mysterious microbes responsible for the deaths and the HMO that owns the hospital, Americare, the same HMO that once destroyed his flourishing medical practice. However Jack is unable to convince his friends and co-workers Chet and Laurie or his bosses that these occurrences are being orchestrated, even after a deadly form of Influenza makes an appearance killing many more patients and hospital staff.

Could Americare deliberately killing off its sickest patients - those who cost the most money to treat?
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Contagion had been sitting in my bookcase unread since I obtained a proof of it in 1996. I decided to read it now because the movie reviews of Contagion were pretty good and I knew I'd never read the book if I had gone to see the movie first.

My decision was a huge mistake since the book was -- in a word -- awful.

It's not that the plot was so bad, which involves forensic pathologist Jack Stapleton suspecting that three different very rare diseases responsible for the deaths of several people at a New York hospital is more than just coincidence. While the plot is highly implausible and requires the reader to stretch their willingness-to-believe to the limit, the book does move along at a decent enough pace. What made this book so bad for me was that Cook's ability to create believable, richly developed characters and dialogue that real people would speak was virtually non-existent. The characters were so one-dimensional,cartoon-like and unrealistic, and the dialogue was so cliche-ridden and ridiculous, that I frequently found myself thinking that the influenza that killed several characters in the book couldn't be any more painful than the pain reading this book produced. What I am asking myself now is: Why did I finish this book if I thought it was so bad? Could I be a glutton for punishment?

I don't think so.

Despite my problems with the plot, character development and dialogue, I continued reading because I wanted to see what happened in the end. Reading the last 75 pages was the "straw that broke the camel's back" for me. While there was a bit of a surprising twist toward the end, the way Cook wrapped up this book was extremely poor and unrealistic. So poor, that the odds of any of the other unread books by Robin Cook in my bookcase ever being read are about the same as the cause for the influenza outbreak described in Contagion becoming reality.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Tracy Davis on April 16, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
On one level, Robin Cook's "Contagion" covers familiar ground: a dedicated doctor, a health care system out of control, and a potential plague that could wipe out mankind. The hero in this case is Jack Stapleton, a medical examiner whose loss of family transforms him into an irreverent, anti-authority figure, a white man who lives in Harlem and rides a bicycle through the city. He also, of course, is the only one to see a pattern in several illnesses that appear at an HMO in New York City; illnesses that are rare and deadly, such as the hantavirus. Cook also delves into the advertising world with one character, Terese, who may not be all that she seems. Cook plays several plotlines concurrently, and for the most part successfully, although how they converge is a little predictable. The main illness, a strain of influenza that wiped out more people than World War I, is the most realistic part of the novel: Cook knows his viruses, and has done his historical research. At times predictable, but still gripping, "Contagion" is on the high end of medical thrillers.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 24, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It's obvious that the author is a doctor, not a writer. While the medical details are probably accurate (I wouldn't know), the prose is laughably bad. The plot drags (chapter after chapter setting up the medical situation), and then erupts into an unlikely series of narrow escapes. The mystery's solution comes out of left field. Not recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 29, 1996
Format: Hardcover
The book starts off with three seemingly unrelated events that, we are told, will eventually collide. The main character in this story is Dr. Stapleton who works in the morgue of a medical facility. The doctor who is a mystery to his co-workers stumbles upon a mystery in the medical field. Several deaths from a local hospital have apparently occurred from rare diseases. Dr. Stapleton, who appears to enjoy living on the edge -- he's a caucasion living in Harlem, makes a genuine pest of himself while he investigates the origin of the diseases.
His pestering lands him on the most-unwanted-list for the hospital. This fact does not deter Dr. Stapleton since this hospital is also associated with a company who he blames for ruining his life. It's not until an attempt is made on his life that he realizes that he may have stumbled onto something more than a freak occurance. In this book there are other characters who either assist or hender Dr. Stapleton's investigation. The thrill is guessing who is actually "assiting" and who is actually "hendering." People are not
always what they seem or who they seem.

As usual, the medical jargon in Robin Cook's novel does not make it difficult reading. Most of the medical terminology is explained sufficiently for the reader to understand the significance of the medical find. The descriptions of the autopsies is not so graphic that it will offend anyone who normally reads medical thrillers. The book is fast-paced and definitely keeps your attention. The characters in the book are well thought out and quite believable. I enjoyed this book and plan to pass it along to others who share an
interest in mystery novels.
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