A Medical Thriller

No, this post is not about the corona virus, but I am going to use that as an introduction to this post. You see, the weekend we were in London, I followed the corona news very closely, since only the week before, on 27 February 2020, the first case was registered in the Netherlands. By the time we flew to London a week later there were already 607 cases. It spread really rapidly in one of our provinces, due to carnival happening the weekend before the 27th. But, it happened in other countries too — numbers started rising. I started following the online blog of one of our main news channels, and there we also saw the human behaviour of people buying toilet paper and pasta and rice and flour as if the end of the world was imminent (which of course it is, at least the world as we know it).

Now Master T is a very realistic person and he would never follow the corona news as closely as I so. Oh, believe me, he does follow the news, as he reads the Financial Times every day (except for Sundays, and he frequently grumbles about not having a paper on Sundays), but he will not follow a live blog on just one subject. At one stage that weekend, as I gave him another unnecessary update, he said: “It’s keeping you quite busy, isn’t it?”
“Yes it is,” I said, and continued reading the news, while I wondered just why the news was keeping me as busy. I came to the conclusion that it’s not only the news about the virus (which reads like a medical thriller), but also the sociological aspect of what is happening. The way people are behaving, the hoarding of food and other essentials, the way some people feel that others are overreacting, the global panic — the side-effect the virus is having on humankind.

And as I thought that through, and mentioned them to Master T, I realized another thing: I have read so many medical thrillers, and they always kept my attention from beginning to end, because of the illness going on, but also the way people behaved.

Robin Cook

My most favorite author of medical thrillers is Robin Cook. I don’t think there’s a book of him I haven’t read. Every one of them. Maybe twice. Three times even. I think Coma is the best known of his books, but there are so many, such as Brain, Fever, Mindbend, Outbreak, Mortal Fear, Terminal, Mutation, Toxin, Acceptable Risk, Seizure, and many more. I absolutely LOVE his books.

Patricia Cornwell

My second favorite writer definitely is Patricia Cornwell, and here I am talking about her books that are written around the main character of the medical examiner Kay Scarpetta. The books are all a mixture of medical thriller and crime, another genre I do love a lot. (Side note: I still have a collection of magazines from my early twenties with the biggest crimes of mankind, mostly serial killers. I love reading about it, or watching movies with true stories about this subject. Patricia Cornwell’s Kay Scarpetta books are brilliant!

Other authors

There are more authors who write medical thrillers, but the only other two I have read are Michael Palmer and Michael Chrichton, although I haven’t read all their books. Both of them weave brilliant tales, but I think I was just such a fan of Robin Cook’s books, and his writing style, that the styles of these two authors didn’t grow on me that much. However, those books I read, I definitely enjoyed.

Other genres

I don’t only read medical thrillers. As said, I also like crime stories, especially those set in the court room, which is why I enjoyed all of John Grisham’s books. Those are books I discovered in my early thirties. Back in my teens and early twenties, I read a lot of Heinz G. Konzalik’s books. He was a war correspondent during the second world war and lots of his books were set in nazi Germany, or communist Russia. I was intrigued — there you have it again — by human nature. Books I absolutely devoured in my teens were that of a tomboy called ‘Saartjie’, books about Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, and I read so many books set in the early years of South Africa, when live evolved around ‘Kaap de Goede Hoop’. I have two stories on my blog that have more or less the same time setting, Lady Amore and “Die Opsitkers”. The latter is only in Dutch as the Afrikaans sayings get lost in translation to English.

I should start reading again

Ever since my mom passed away, I haven’t read a book anymore. I just didn’t have the energy to do this, but writing this post, it feels like I should start reading again. And maybe, maybe it’s a good thing if I start with the books of Michael Palmer and Michael Chrichton I haven’t yet read, as now that I am older, I might just appreciate them a lot more. Oh, and don’t forget Dean Koontz! I definitely want to read more of his books too!

Yes, I do think it’s time to start reading again! Now to get those books from somewhere!

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© Rebel’s Notes

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9 thoughts on “A Medical Thriller

  1. You introduce this post so nicely, weave it into the idea of a thriller so well and I think you’re right, that’s exactly what this pandemic and the start of it and the rapid acceleration of it feels like. Like you, I was following it almost obsessively every day once it became rather scary.

    1. I am not following as excessively anymore, but still checking the numbers once or twice a day. And we watch Cuomo on CNN every day, but then the rest of the evening it’s only Netflix, to get away from it for a bit.

  2. Patricia Cornwell has written a nonfiction book about Jack the Ripper, called Portrait of a Killer. It’s on my to-be read shelf; your mention of her Scarpetta novels recalled that fact to mind. Perhaps I will start on it this weekend.

    You mention Michael Crichton but not in the context of sci-fi; I find that interesting. Crichton’s work is a bit of a mixed bag for me. I liked Timeline well enough to read it in one sitting, for instance, but couldn’t force myself to slog through Airframe over a course of several weeks. (I gave up and donated it to charity — somebody out there will like it!) His last novel, published posthumously, called Dragon Teeth, reads like a first draft (and may well have been), but his early pulp fiction (written as John Lang) – which probably *was* first-drafts – is fantastic.

    1. Thanks for the tips, Feve. I have tried some other books by Crichton but couldn’t get through them, which meant I stuck to the medical thrillers. I have decided to return to listening to audio books. Starting on YouTube and if it sticks, I will get a subscription somewhere.

  3. I find human behaviour fascinating too. I love crime thrillers and have also read books like Coma. I’m going to read more if I can get my brain to concentrate and forget the news for a while. xx

  4. You made me laugh with your words- “i don’t only read medical thrillers” – I am pleased you have mentioned some as I certainly like a good thriller and will look out for your choices.
    I too find peoples behaviour in times of crisis like this fascinating. I studied psychology at uni years ago and have always found the whys of human nature interesting.
    May xx

    1. Human nature is fascinating. I’ve always found that, and with things going on now, there’s even more that interest me xox

  5. I know just what you mean and the sociological reactions going on around us. There are books here you recommend that I haven’t tried so I am going to add them to my list. Since I started blogging and reading online I haven’t had the time to read either and it is something I miss. If working from home allows any additional time then reading is what I am going to add. I really do miss it. ? thanks for the inspiration

    1. I had a tip to do audio books on YouTube, before I start a paid subscription somewhere. So guess who is going to fall asleep with a book? 😉
      I definitely miss reading too!

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