Reviewing Foreign Body

Foreign Body is another in Robin Cook’s Jack Stapleton & Laurie Montgomery series. In this book, though, Jack and Laurie are pretty small players. While I enjoyed the book, I often found myself wondering why they were included. By the end, I felt like the whole story could have been told without them.


Jennifer Hernandez is on the first day of a new rotation as a part of her medical school training. Having gotten there early, Jennifer is waiting for the class to begin when her phone rings. In a short period of time, she learns her beloved grandmother had gone to India for a much-needed hip replacement she couldn’t afford in America. She soon discovers her grandmother died from a reported heart attack while in recovery. Knowing her grandmother had a healthy heart, Jennifer is suspicious.

As the story unfolds, we learn about medical tourism in India. While the government of India looks for the dollars and potential good press from medical tourism, there are wealthy corporations that don’t want to lose lucrative business to India.

If you enjoy medical thrillers and/or stories that raise interesting moral questions, you will enjoy Foreign Body. If you are fans of Jack and Laurie, don’t expect to see much of them here.

Spoiler Alert

If you are interested in reading Foreign Body stop reading now.

When a group of four Americans charged with slowing down the interest of Americans in going to India for medical procedures discover the quality of the work and the outcomes achieved are both very good, they have a problem. So, they have to make the numbers look bad. They decide to do that by recruiting nurses to kill Americans recovering from procedures in India.

The first nurse to kill is named Davina. She kills Jennifer Hernandez’s grandmother. She agrees to commit the murder because her father has been abusing her since the age of six. He tells her if she tells anyone he will abuse her younger sisters. Davina is obviously trapped in a terrible situation. When she is promised she and her family will have protection from her father if she does one kill, Davina reluctantly agrees.

At the end of the book, Jennifer, who was also abused by her father, forgives Davina for murdering her grandmother. With help from Jennifer, Jack, Laurie, and others, Davina eventually makes her way to medical school in the United States.

I think Jennifer’s ability to forgive Davina and her willingness to help are admirable. But I had a hard time overlooking the reality that Davina committed premeditated murder and that her victim had nothing to do with her abuse. Had Davina murdered her father, I would have understood. But she premeditatedly murdered a completely innocent woman.

Acknowledging I can’t possibly relate to the abuse she suffered, I’m still not certain she belonged in medical school. Whether she belonged in prison is another question. Since Jennifer clearly wouldn’t have wanted that outcome, Davina was remorseful, she helped Jennifer escape a kidnapping, and ultimately told the truth, Davina deserved a second chance. I would have voted to acquit in a criminal trial. But allowing someone who had committed premeditated murder to become a doctor seems a stretch too far.

It’s hard to have a crime worse than premeditatedly murdering a completely innocent person, who has done nothing to you. I’m sorry, but no abuse, no matter how terrible, justifies the intensional taking of a completely innocent life.

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