Top positive review
Another Threatening Illness, Another Hero
on April 16, 2001
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.