Monday, June 22, 2009

Is There a Doctor in the House? Medical Thrillers

If you went looking online for a definition of the fiction genre, thriller, you would find many, many entries. Princeton’s WordNet puts it simply – “a suspenseful adventure story.” If you scroll a little further down, you come upon Merriam Webster’s online definition which starts to become a bit more complex. A thriller, says MW, is a “work of fiction designed to hold the interest by the use of a high degree of intrigue, adventure or suspense.”

This definition seems a bit more wordy than it needs to be, but it does begin to point to the fact that in today’s genre-filled publishing world there are many different kinds of thriller. This is the first in a series of posts that will discuss three very popular kinds of thriller: medical (in today’s post), technological and conspiracy (in future posts).

Back to our definition search. Putting “medical thriller” in as a search term produces a number of interesting sites to check out. The first that comes up is the Wiki entry for thriller in general, but that entry goes on to discuss 13 (count ‘em – 13!) different sub-categories of thriller, one of which is the medical thriller. The Wiki article says that the medical thriller is one in which the hero/heroine are medical doctors or personnel working to solve an expanding medical problem. The article then goes to on mention several recommended authors of medical thrillers.

The next most interesting result of our search is a link to Library Thing (have you checked this site out?), and a (very long) list of all the titles in Library Thing that have been tagged “medical thriller.” There is no attempt at evaluation here – simply a listing, with those works that have the most tags appearing first.

Most sites and readers of medical thrillers seem to agree that there are three authors who are simply superior at their craft - Robin Cook, Tess Gerritsen and Michael Palmer. Just about any book that you read by these three authors is guaranteed to bring a shiver to your spine and some nervous moments to your brain. Robin Cook’s latest, Intervention, is due out in August. (You may place a hold on it NOW at the library or through the library’s website and online catalog.) Gerristen’s latest is called Keepsake, and Palmers’ newest, The Second Opinion, was just released this past February.

Three other titles that are not part of a series, but that are highly recommended are:

Invasive Procedures by Orson Scott Card

The Eleventh Plague by John S. Marr and John Baldwin

Isolation Ward by Joshua Spanogle.

Give them a try – and let us know what your favorite medical thriller is. Meg



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