Harmful Intent by Robin Cook

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Social Concerns / Themes

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Harmful Intent takes on a different type of medical-related target: ambulance-chasing lawyers. Cook asks the reader to imagine how well malpractice attorneys could do if they hired someone to sabotage a doctor's work and create a situation that is virtually unexplainable except by the doctor's negligence. In effect, the lawyers create a demand for their services by providing a supply of victims. This scenario is arguably the most farfetched of all Cook's schemes, and yet — given the numbers of lawyers charged with unethical practices — is not implausible in the realm of fiction. To a lesser degree, Cook explores the turmoil of a physician whose life and career have been ruined, ostensibly because of a mistake.

Cook questions the integrity and professionalism of attorneys who are trained to uphold the law and protect others from victimization, but who line their pockets illegally from the misfortune of others. Cook demonstrates that society is vulnerable to the alienated, anonymous individual who harbors an impersonal grudge against humanity. It is seemingly impossible to bring this kind of criminal to justice — for there is no justice. Society's greed, fueled by avaricious lawyers, has twisted the lawsuit from an attempt to render justice into a mindless dispensation of money as a balm for pain.