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Toxin Mass Market Paperback – February 1, 1999

3.1 out of 5 stars 305 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Just when you thought it was safe to eat a hamburger again, Robin Cook--master of medical mysteries, deadly epidemics, and creepy comas--returns with an all too likely villain drawn right from current headlines: the American meat industry. If you've ever wondered where the E. coli bacteria comes from, and exactly how it can ravage the human body, destroying everything in its path, this is the book for you. As usual, Cook delivers solid information, well-researched medical arcana, and a scathing indictment of managed health care.

His protagonist, Kim Regis, is an all-too-typical ego-driven surgeon, whose arrogance and invulnerability set him up to be brought low by the deadly toxin that takes the life of his young daughter. Sparing no time and barely a paragraph to reflect on his loss, Regis goes right after the culprit, a meat-packing behemoth that brings dead and diseased animals to the slaughterhouse, breaking every health regulation in the book. The scenes set on the killing floor and in the boning rooms will make a vegetarian out of the most confirmed red-meat eater. Toxin is a heart-pounding thriller that hits very close to home. --Jane Adams

From Library Journal

Cook cooks up another medical thriller, with a bunch of E.coli bacteria as villain, an underdone hamburger as murder weapon, and a little boy as victim. His doctor-father soon discovers that something far more sinister than bad hygiene is the cause. A Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, and Mystery Guild main selection.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons; 1st Printing edition (February 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425166619
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425166611
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (305 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #510,868 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was a good book, but it definitely had three problems. 1- The multi-personality doc was unbelievable, resembling a whiny superhero. 2- The writing was so contrary. Cook has a large vocabulary, even sometimes he's too perfect with the grammar in the conversation. Yet, most of the dialogue is followed by "Tracy said, Reggis said, Tracy said, Becky said, Kelly said". Does Cook know of any other word to use besides "said" after quotation?
And the third problem was the ENDING! It ruined the book AND cost the book two stars on my rating. My hand was turning the pages at a mile a minute and then stopped at the ending. The story just fell into an empty space, not resolving the problem, no conclusion, nothing. UGH! I threw the book down in disgust.
Now you're asking why did I rate it with 3 stars. I couldn't put the book down (until the end, explained earlier). Cook's use of setting, conflict, and description was phenomenal. I really felt like I was in the scenes. The author merged a narrative medical drama with expository information about the steer-to-hamburger process. The "bridge" that melded the two and made the story work was the conflict of: the doctor's attempt to uncover E. Coli contamination versus the USDA and beef industry alliance's attempt to keep the contamination secret, in order to maintain their profits. If an ending was included in the book, it would be worthy of five stars.
This won't be the best book you'll ever read, but it's nonstop action and exploration through the beef industry will make you think next time you take a bite into that Big Mac.
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By A Customer on August 21, 1998
Format: Audio Cassette
After I enjoyed Contagion it's been downhill for Robin Cook. This lame attempt at a social commentary on HMOs and our "unsafe" food supply is so laughable it nearly parodies itself.
The first half of the book rails against the bottom-line mentality of HMOs as Dr. Kim Regis tries to procure treatment for his food poisoned daughter. Memo to Dr. Cook - HMOs cannot deny treatment, they can only deny coverage. They can't forbid a person from seeking and obtaining medical care, they can only decide not to pay for it. It is ridiculous to expect the reader to believe that since his HMO wouldn't cover a particular procedure, a wealthy cardiac surgeon would have no other options. If you're waiting for hours in an emergency room and you're a rich doctor - get in your Lexus and go to a different hospital, or call your internal medicine buddy from med school, or figure it out for yourself. How lame can you get than to think that anyone, let alone a rich doctor, wouldn't think of something to do to improve the situation rather than get mad and threaten the ER staff. If you're rich and your daughter is dying and your HMO won't cover an MRI, go somewhere else and pay for it yourself! It's a free country. If it was just an average Joe the author would have a point. Most people can't afford to pay for an MRI right out of their pocket, but I suspect that "renowned cardiac surgeons" can. And on the food poisoning issue. There was an elaborate series of events that had to simulaneously take place in order to poison the child. 1) The sick cow had to be infected with a particular strain of e.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The book Toxin, while indeed an interesting read, still has several glaring flaws that prevent it from being an outstanding book. The path that Cook takes to develop sympathy for the protagonist, Kim, becomes horribly mangled when Kim is seen acting rashly and irresponsibly. He throws temper tantrums many times and is emotionally out of control, which makes it difficult to be on the side Cook wants the reader to be when the main character acts so childishly. Secondly, blatant stereotyping is also an issue that could potentially turn people off from this book, such as the portrayal of the meat business owners as greedy ignorant red-necks and the main hit-man being a violent, death-crazed Mexican. Stereotypes like these make the book seem very "cut and paste" with little creativity, as well as potentially offensive to some. The realism in some of the events such as a slaughterhouse being able to so easily buy an obliviously infected cow with no difficulty seems extremely unlikely due to standard and regulations are in place in modern times. Kim and Tracy are also able to easily fly to Europe through a commercial airline despite being wanted by the police for many crimes including murder, which would be nearly impossible to accomplish in real life. Finally, the ending is a huge letdown that gives no real conclusion on whether the meat companies get caught or what will happen to those who have also become infected with e.coli. However, the book is very good at building an exciting climax as well as giving the reader serious thoughts about where our food really comes from. Toxin, while still rough around the edges, is still a thrilling and unpredictable read.
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Format: Hardcover
If Cook is trying to elicit support for his contention that the USDA is in bed with an evil meat industry intent on poisoning the public with tainted meat, he should at least take English 101 to learn some writing skills. It's not an easy sell except to alarmists who vow never to eat another hamburger again. He may make readers ill with his description of hamburger processing, but let's be realistic. Billions of burgers are consumed in this country every year and the number of fatal E. Coli victims are miniscule. After all, even Cook attributes the child's illness to one sick cow.
And the insipid high school writing! His dialogues are totally robotic; why do conversations (such as one in an elevator between two doctors) sound like pretensious academic seminars? And can't he find another way to express gut-wrenching grief other than repeating "I'm so sorry" in every discussion about his daughter's illness? The characters are made of genuine cardboard. The supposed "hero," Dr. Regis, is out-of-control idiot, his ex-wife, a psycho-babbling twit. The plot line lacks plausibility; real cardiac surgeons, who probably have some smarts beyond their skillful hands, are unlikely to unilaterally investigate their children's deaths in such a moronic manner.
Cook may have wanted to make a point about laxities in the beef industry. but he should have first read Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" to see what a well-crafted novel really can do to motivate the public. (It ultimately lead to creation of the FDA.) In the meantime, I'll just slap another burger on the grill. Pass the ketchup,please.
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