Robin Cook is probably one of the most prolific – if not the most prolific – medical thriller author of our modern times. Who hasn’t read Coma, Sphinx, or Contagion, all stories dealing with horrible viruses and threats against either one hospital or the entire human race? Robin Cook, with his book, Coma, is considered the father of the medical thriller genre, and with good reason.
Many of the author’s books have been made into movies (including Coma, which was directed by Michael Crichton), and some readers have come across the books after first watching the chilling movies. Others, like myself, who love reading everything medical thriller, have been reading the Robin Cook books from the very first time we came across them, around the end of the 1970s.
Here are the Robin Cook books in order for the author’s bestselling novels including his Jack Stapleton & Laurie Montgomery series.
New Robin Cook Book
Jack Stapleton & Laurie Montgomery Series
- Blindsight, 1991
- Contagion, 1995
- Chromosome 6, 1997
- Vector, 1999
- Marker, 2005
- Crisis, 2006
- Critical, 2007
- Foreign Body, 2008
- Intervention, 2009
- Cure, 2010
- Pandemic, 2018
Dr. Marissa Blumenthal Series
Pia Grazdani Series
Standalone Robin Cook Books
- The Year of the Intern, 1972
- Coma, 1977
- Sphinx, 1979
- Brain, 1980
- Fever, 1982
- Godplayer, 1983
- Mindbend, 1985
- Mortal Fear, 1988
- Mutation, 1989
- Harmful Intent, 1990
- Terminal, 1992
- Fatal Cure, 1994
- Acceptable Risk, 1995
- Invasion, 1997
- Toxin, 1998
- Abduction, 2000
- Shock, 2001
- Seizure, 2002
- Cell, 2014
- Host, 2015
- Charlatans, 2017
Robin Cook Biography
New York Timesbest-selling author Robin Cook was born in 1940 in Brooklyn, New York and lived there until the age of 8, when he moved with his parents to to Leonia, New Jersey.
After high school, he attended Wesleyan University for his undergrad studies, and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons for medical school, from where, after his graduation, he continued his studies by getting his his postgraduate medical training at Harvard. After his oftalmology residency, he also attended Kennedy School of Government.
After writing and publishing his debut novel, The Year of the Intern, he realized that it was not a very good book. It didn’t sell overly well, and it was, plainly put, a failure.
So Robin Cook began studying bestsellers (including Jaws and Love Story), and learning what made them as popular as they were. He learned a number of techniques that he wrote down on index cards, and then he wrote Coma, the book that literally propelled him to the bestseller list that he so much coveted. In that book, he used every technique that he once listed on those index cards back in the day.
The rights for the paperback edition of Coma was sold for $800, 000. After the success of Coma, Robin Cook wrote Sphinx and Brain, after which the author decided to stop working in medicine and focus full-time on writing books.
In an interview. Robin Cook mentioned that with his books, he is not only entertaining but also educating people in all things medicine. He is truly trying to educate us all. There are lots of facets of medicine that regular people are not aware of, especially with the fast-growth of so many related fields. Also, in his books, the author brings forward socio-ethical problems that arise out of dealing with doctors and the pharmaceutical industry.
Also, most of his books deal with issues that are quite contemporary in nature, which worry people in general. So learning about those issues, even in the form of thrillers, is a way for the author to help people in general. Among topics that his books touch include fertility treatment, genetic engineering, organ donation, medical malpractice, care of elderly, organ transplants, biotechnology, modern technology (including smartphones, the internet, and mobile health), stem cell research, and research of drugs, among others.
Another theme of many books by Robin Cook is the intrusion of business in medicine. Many business people are looking at medicine as a get-rich-quick scheme, and the author is trying to expose this situation.
Many Robin Cook books take place around various Boston hospitals, which is not surprising considering that Boston, and the author has a residency in the city as well.
To be most accurate in his books, Robin Cook took a course in forensic pathology, and also he talked with several medical examiners.
An interesting fact is the Robin Cook has the pulse on current medical events, and some people even say he is able to anticipate national medical controversies, many of which he bases his books on.
At some point, the author gave one main reason why his books are so wildly popular with readers all over the world. Basically, healthcare issues are global in scope. He said,
The main reason is, we all realize we’re at risk. We’re all going to be patients at some time.” “You can write about great white sharks or haunted houses, and you can say I’m not going in the ocean or I’m not going in haunted houses, but you can’t say you’re not going to go in a hospital.”
While The Year of the Intern is the author’s debut novel (a semi-autobiographical account of medical school), it’s really Coma that propelled Robin Cook to fame. In fact, 2017 was the year marking the book’s 40th anniversary. It could also very well be that it marks the creation of the medical thriller genre.
A fun trivia about The Year of the Intern, he wrote the book while aboard Kamehameha, a nuclear submarine after he was drafted into the Navy after his surgical residency. The submarine was completely underwater for 75 days, and once it surfaced, Robin Cook was seen carrying his completely hand-written manuscript with him above while leaving the sub.
Coma was written 5 years later, while Robin Cook was a senior ophthalmology resident, doing cornea transplant surgery at the time, and it was published while he was a student at the Kennedy School of Government.
For anyone wondering whether we should read the Robin Cook books in order, especially since he has written not only standalone medical thrillers but also a couple of shorter series, my personal opinion (after having read every single book by the author) is that the reading order is not necessary to be followed.
Each book stands on its own, has its own story, and doesn’t continue with the next books in the series. So whether you begin reading the Robin Cook novels starting with Pandemic or Coma, it really doesn’t matter. If the book you picked up speaks to you, you will start reading the rest of the author’s books anyway.
Currently, Robin Cook spends his time between Florida, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, while he is working on his next book.
Praise for Robin Cook
Where Cook shines is in illuminating that combination of impersonal professionalism and potential terror haunting every hospital corridor. A return to form for the master of medical malevolence. (Kirkus Reviews)
Brutally intense…A medical thriller cannot get any better than Host. (Associated Press)
Cook has been cranking out best-selling medical thrillers since the mid-1970s, and he long ago worked out a formula that works for his fans. [Charlatans] is no exception, proving once again that there is comfort and entertainment to be found in the familiar.” (Booklist)
[Coma] Strikes a deafening chord of terror. (The Washington Post)
Unputdownable . . . A chilling, fast-moving suspense thriller (The Boston Globe)
With Cell Robin Cook demonstrates why he is the undisputed king of medical thrillers. Can a smartphone app kill you? You’ll believe it can after you read this story, which blasts along faster than a truckload of quad core processors. Equal measures a substantive social commentary that we will all soon have to deal with and a terrifying blood-and-guts tale of what lies right around the technology corner, Cook has delivered a home run worthy of the writer who has consistently thrilled millions ever since his blockbuster Coma. (David Baldacci)
Medicine is about to go through its biggest shakeup in history. Who could better capture this in the form of a medical techno-thriller than Dr. Robin Cook? (Eric Topol)
A terrifying excursion into the world of medicine, money, manipulation and one of the most pressing ethical and public policy issues of our time. (Huffington Post)