reviewed by Pam Guynn
Night Shift by Robin Cook is the thirteenth book in the Jack Stapleton and Laurie Montgomery medical thriller series. Jack is a medical examiner and Laurie is the newly appointed chief medical examiner in New York City. While this book is said to be a thriller, for most of the novel it is a mystery and the investigation of a death of a family friend. When Dr. Sue Passero dies in the hospital parking garage, an autopsy is required and Jack takes the case. Unable to determine a cause of death, he starts an investigation while waiting on lab results.
Cook’s description of Jack and several other characters came through extremely well. Jack is thorough, efficient, has a sarcastic sense of humor, and tends to function by pure reflex without thinking about the consequences. Laurie plays a much smaller role in this tale and mainly shows up in the last 25 percent of the book. Both Jack and Laurie are having trouble balancing work and family commitments. Beyond this, readers get a sense that Laurie is controlling, impatient, and feeling the stresses and strains of her new job.
This story focuses more on the investigation side of deaths versus action until the last 20 percent or so of the book. I wanted the suspense level to be higher than it was in the early part of the book. Additionally, this book takes place during the COVID pandemic and certain topics such as vaccines and masks were somewhat repetitive. However, these discussions were extremely common during the pandemic making it feel realistic.
After a slow start, the ending brings the suspense, danger, and foreboding that one expects from a medical crime thriller. Additionally, it looks at the levels of hospital staffing and the effects of a lost colleague on other staff members. The plot has plenty of twists and turns, but is unbelievable at times. My main quibble is that the antagonist was too easy to identify and it’s confirmed about half-way through the book. Despite this, I enjoyed the investigation part of the story which kept me intrigued.
Overall, this novel was well-written, thought-provoking, entertaining, and kept my interest. The tension, stakes, and action build up to an exciting ending that is over-the-top. The author’s ability to combine strong characters and complex plots kept me turning the pages.
I recommend this book to those that enjoy medical mysteries. This is the fourth book I’ve read by this author, but the second in this series. It worked fine as a standalone novel for me. I’m looking forward to reading the next one as well as previous books in the series.
I purchased a copy of this novel. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. Publication date was December 06, 2022.
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