After losing his Midwestern ophthalmology practice to a for-profit medical giant, and then his family to a commuter airline tragedy, Dr. John Stapleton's life is in ashes. Abandoning his home and practice, Stapleton retrains as a medical examiner and relocates to a city that suits his changed perspective: the cold concrete maze of New York City.
Stapleton thinks he is past pain and past caring, but as a series of lethal illneses -- capped by a particularly deadly outbreak of a rare strain of influenza -- strikes the young, the old and the innocent, his suspicions are aroused. And when the apparent epicenter of these outbreaks is revealed to be a hospital controlled by the same for-profit giant that cannibalized his old ophthalmology practice, Stapleton fears he has stumbled upon a conspiracy of catastrophic proportions.
Solving the mystery leads to his unlikely pairing, both professionally and personally, with Terese Hagen, an art director at a hot Madison Avenue advertising firm. And as he gets closer to discovering the real explanation behind the killer contagions, he finds his life is on the line -- for there are those who will pay any price to keep the diabolical truth from being revealed.
Contagion anticipates some of the uncharted consequences of managed health care, in an age when even the wariest consumer may be at risk. It is a terrifying cautionary tale for the millennium, as health-care giants collide. It is Robin Cook at his unerring best.