Neurosurgeon Jessie Copeland works at the very frontier of neurosurgery, developing technology that could revolutionize the treatment of brain tumors. But her work brings her to the attention of an infinitely dangerous man.
Claude Malloche is brilliant, remorseless—a terrorist without regard for human life. He is also ill with a brain tumor considered to be inoperable. Nothing can stop Malloche from getting to the woman he believes can cure him. For those caught in his path, the nightmare has just begun…and no one is more aware of the stakes than Jessie Copeland.
In brain surgery there are no guarantees—but that’s exactly what Malloche demands. With disaster just one cut away, Jessie faces the most harrowing case of her life—and the price of failure may be thousands of lives….
Unlike any of my other stories, The Patient started with a “What if?” (see Writing Tips) that didn’t involve any particular issue in medicine. “What if the most mysterious, ruthless, brilliant assassin in the world had a brain tumor and needed surgery?” I believe it is, along with The Sisterhood, the strongest premise I have concocted. In order to make the story work, I spent much of three months following my friend, Dr. Eben Alexander, around. Alex is a brilliant scientist and neurosurgeon, in addition to being a compassionate and involved physician. I watched as he told patients their operation had succeeded, and told others that, unfortunately, their cancer had regrown. I stood in the operating room for many hours watching him operate incredibly complex machinery while he was painstakingly dissecting out a tumor from a patient’s brain. Much of who Jessie Copeland is in this novel, she owes to Alex. The notion to delve into robotics is what ultimately pulled this book together. I want to take total credit for the idea, but I think the initial germ of it came from Dr. Alexander. I read as much as I could to find out about medical robotics, and spent hours sketching the electronic beastie that would become ARTIE in the book.
For more than a year, it looked as if Noah Wyle and his production company were going to make a film of this book. Then, alas, the project fell through, in part I think because of the post 9/11 reluctance of Hollywood to produce movies about terrorists.
This is the first of my books with an author’s note at the end, dealing primarily with robotics. Ironically, the day The Patient first hit the stores,The New York Times featured the report of a cardiac bypass operation done robotically (and successfully) via three pencil-sized holes placed in the patient’s chest.