Author: Robin Cook

Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1248-0

Best selling author, Robin Cook has set his thirty-fifth novel, Charlatans at the Boston Memorial Hospital where we meet Super Chief Surgical Resident, Dr. Noah Rothauser. It is also here where readers become acquainted with several other characters including Dr. Ava London anesthesiologist, who plays an important role in Dr. Rothauser's life.

As our story unfolds, we learn that a very popular and gregarious employee with the hospital, Bruce Vincent is about to undergo a hernia operation that will be performed by Dr. Mason, a full Harvard professor of surgery and chief of the Department of Gastrointestinal Surgery. When Dr. Rothauser informs various members of the medical staff that Dr. Mason was going to perform the surgery, they were flabbergasted, as he had not performed a hernia repair since he was a surgical resident more than thirty years ago. And if this was not something to be concerned about, Vincent is late for his operation and he lies to the admitting personnel when doesn't inform them that he ate breakfast, which was contrary to instructions he had received.

Incidentally, Dr. Mason was performing two other concurrent operations and the patients were all under anesthesia at the same time. In fact, he does not appear for about an hour after anesthesia had been administered to Vincent. Unfortunately, Vincent dies on the operating table due to a lack of following proper procedures before and during the operation including the fact that his heart would not start after being on a bypass, even with an internal pacemaker.

Dr. Mason, who is quite full of himself and arrogant, refuses to admit that he was in any way responsible for Vincent's death and intends to to see that it is directed elsewhere, mostly at Anesthesia. On the other hand, Dr. London is convinced that Dr. Mason was entirely to blame for the tragic death. In addition, according to Dr. Rothauser, it appears that the post-operative medical records of Vincent has been changed. It is now up to Dr. Rothauser to present all of his findings to his peers, which is quite unsettling for him as he is obliged to find out which doctor is at fault and this meant interviewing Dr. Mason and London. It should be mentioned that after the unfortunate death of Vincent, there are two other anesthesia-related deaths where Dr. London had been involved.

During the course of his meetings with Dr. London, Dr. Rothauser becomes involved in a romantic liaison with her and discovers that apart from her employment as an anesthesiologist, she was also working for the Nutritional Supplement Council (NSC) as a spokesperson/lobbyist. The NSC was a lobby group lavishly funded by the nutritional -supplement industry. No doubt, Dr. Rothauser had very strong negative feelings about the industry, which he described as a bunch of snake-oil manufacturers and salesmen. He also discovers some disturbing features of Dr. London's personality concerning her obsession with social media, particularly Facebook that makes him ask who really is this person as there seems to be many surprising layers to her and is their relationship really a healthy one?

What we have here is a multilayered tale that includes a fascinating and disturbing peek into the workings of a renowned fictional hospital, the oddly mysterious and secretive behavior of an anesthesiologist, and the problem of charlatans and the medical profession. As for the last element and as pointed out in the Author's Note “now that the world is engulfed in the digital age, the situation is getting worse and accelerating because of the vulnerability of databases, which make it possible to augment curriculum vitae or even create them completely de novo.” This is one novel that will keep you guessing with suspense that is akin to a Hitchcock movie.