Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Death Benefit by Robin Cook (audiobook)

Title: Death Benefit
Author: Robin Cook
Read by: George Guidall
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Length: Approximately 11 hours (10 CDs)
Source: Review Copy from Penguin Books.  Thank-you!
Death Benefit is a disturbing look into a medical mystery that demonstrates that sometimes profits come before medical miracles.

Pia Grazdani and her friend George Wilson are both in their final years at Columbia Medical School.  Popular George loves his friend, the rather aloof Pia, but he can’t seem to break her barrier to become more than friends with benefits.  Pia is a very smart and unique woman, who has troubles relating to people.  She grew up in the foster care system after the murder of her mother and abandonment by her father.  She was abused by her Uncle and by others in the system.  Now as a beautiful young woman, she grows close to no one until she starts working with Dr. Tobias Rothman, a brilliant scientist who has discovered how to regrow organs specific for each individual.  Dr. Rothman is working on perfecting his system and is notoriously hard to work with.  He also had a hard youth in the foster care system and develops a bond with Pia.
In a parallel story Edmund Mathews and Russell Levevre are two financiers that became rich after the crash of 2008 by dubious methods that helped bring down the economy.  They have found a new get rich quick scheme with a new target:  the elderly.  They decide to buy health insurance policies from older Americans that have health problems such as diabetes.  They will buy them for cheap allowing the older folks to get some money that is much needed in this economy and will make money off of it in their death.  The only thing that can foil their plan is if Americans suddenly stop dying . . . when they discover Dr. Rothman’s research just might create this situation where they will lose all of their money, they take a route to the dark side and create a cascade of events of that will has lasting consequences.
Pia is the only one that suspects the truth and together with George they are determined to solve the mystery.  What results is a heart pounding mystery that I really enjoyed.  My only complaint was that it ended rather too soon for me.  I would have liked more detail at the end as I came to care for all of the characters. A lot of the secondary characters story lines were not tied up.
George Guidall did a fine job narrating the novel.  He has one of those voices that is always interesting to listen too, even when narrating though a female character’s point of view.  Death Benefit was a great audiobook to listen to in the car; I really couldn’t wait to see how the story would end.  Pia is a great conflicted heroine that is a little tough to love.  She reminded me a lot of Lisbeth from The Girl in the Dragon Tattoo.  Both women were tough, brilliant heroines with trouble relating to people.  I also really liked the science in the book.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we really did have such a medical miracle?
Death Benefit was my first book that I’ve read (or listened to!) by Robin Cook, and it definitely will not be my last.

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