Book Reviews

Go To Hopkins & Company Homepage

Go to Executive Times Archives


Go to 2003 Book Review List


Seizure by Robin Cook


Rating: (Read only if your interest is strong)


Click on title or picture to buy from



Slippery Slope

There are Robin Cook fans who will read anything he writes. His latest novel, Seizure, is perfect for those readers. For the rest of us, the story is too sloppy, plot developments are too predictable, character motivations are too shallow, and character development is too limited. Nonetheless, Cook presents a tale wherein what’s rationalized as a minor compromise in ethics leads to the slippery slope of crime and punishment. Here’s an excerpt (pp. 64-5) of what to expect:

"… By doing this procedure, we will save CURE and HTSR, meaning millions of people will ultimately benefit. It seems to me a minor compromise in ethics is a small up-front price to pay for an enormous back-end payoff."

"But we'll be doing exactly what Senator Butler accused the biotech industry of doing in his opening statement this morning: using ends to justify means. It would be unethical to experiment on Senator Butler, plain and simple."

"Yeah, well, perhaps to some degree, but who are we putting at risk? It's the villain! He's the one asking for it. Worse yet, he's conniving for it by extorting us with information he got by somehow coercing the FBI to do an illegal investigation."

"That all may be true, but two wrongs don't make a right, and it doesn't absolve us of our complicity."

"I think it would. We'll make Butler sign a release, and we'll put everything in the release, including the fact that we are fully aware that doing the procedure would be considered unethical by any research advisory board in this country, because it's being done without an appropriately approved protocol. The release will state unequivocally that it was Butler's idea to do the procedure and to do the procedure outside of the country. It will also state that he used extortion to get us to participate."

"Do you think he'd sign such a release?"

"We won't give him any choice. Either he signs it or he doesn't get the benefit of HTSR. I'm comfortable with the idea that we'll be doing the procedure in the Bahamas, so we won't be violating any PDA rules, and we'll have a rock-solid release in case we need it. The onus will be squarely on Butler's shoulders."

"Let me think about it for a few minutes."

"Take your time, but I really think the moral weight favors our doing it. It would be different if we were forcing him in any way, shape, or form. But we're not. It's the other way around."

"But it could be argued that he's uninformed. He's a politician, not a doctor. He doesn't truly know the risks. He could die."

"He's not going to die," Daniel said emphatically. "We'll err on the conservative side, meaning the worse-case scenario is that we won't give him enough cells to get his dopamine concentration high enough to get rid of all his symptoms. If that happens, he'll be begging us to do it again, which will be easy, since we'll maintain the treating cells in culture."

"Let me mull it over."

"Sure," Daniel said.

They rode the rest of the way in silence. It wasn't until they were going up in the hotel elevator that Stephanie spoke up: "Do you honestly think we would be able to find an appropriate place to do the procedure?"

"Butler spent a good deal of effort on all this," Daniel said. "He wasn't leaving anything to chance. Frankly, I'd be shocked if he didn't have the clinic he mentioned investigated for appropriateness at the same time he had me investigated."

"I suppose that's possible. Actually, I remember reading about the Wingate Clinic about a year ago. It was a popular, unaffiliated infertility clinic out in Bookford, Massachusetts, before it moved under pressure to the Bahamas. It was quite a scandal."

"I remember it too. It was run by a couple of maverick infertility guys. Their research department was doing unethical reproductive cloning experiments."

"Unconscionable is a better description, like trying to get human fetuses to gestate in pigs. I remember they were also implicated in the disappearance of a couple of Harvard coed egg donors. The principals had to flee the country and barely managed to avoid extradition back to the States. All in all, it sounds like the absolute opposite of the kind of place and people we should get involved with."

"We wouldn't be getting involved with them. We'd do the procedure, wash our hands, and leave."

Cook has always done plot better than dialogue. In Seizure, dialogue remains strained, and plot remains sketchy. If you enjoyed the excerpt, jump into the rest of Seizure. If not, take my word for it, the rest of the book is just as bad as this excerpt, so take a pass.

Steve Hopkins, August 22, 2003


ã 2003 Hopkins and Company, LLC


The recommendation rating for this book appeared in the September 2003 issue of Executive Times

URL for this review:


For Reprint Permission, Contact:

Hopkins & Company, LLC • 723 North Kenilworth Avenue • Oak Park, IL 60302
Phone: 708-466-4650 • Fax: 708-386-8687