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The Deadly Dinner Party & Other Medical Detective Stories

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  504 ratings  ·  84 reviews

Picking up where Berton Roueché’s The Medical Detectives left off, The Deadly Dinner Party presents fifteen edge-of-your-seat, real-lifemedical detective stories written by a practicing physician. Award-winning author Jonathan Edlow, M.D., shows the doctor as detective and the epidemiologist as elite sleuth in stories that are as gripping as the best thrillers.

In these sto

ebook, 260 pages
Published May 14th 2014 by Yale University Press (first published 2009)
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I found this in the library by chance. I like a scientific/medical mystery book of this kind, so I brought it home.

While the case studies were interesting, the writing did, on the whole, let the book down. The author had a tendency to outline the problems, hint or explain the issue quickly and then diverge into a history lesson about the bacterium/condition/additive/whatever in question before finally finishing up conclusion of the case study and final outcome.

For me, it just flattened everythin
This is a book that hit 4 out of 5 highlights for me: 1. mystery 2. life or death situations 3. resolution to the problems presented, and 4. interesting facts/details.

The only thing that could have made it more entertaining to read would have been a narrative like in a work of fiction, but that would have discredited the book's contents so I'm glad the author didn't do that. As is, an excellent book.

Really interesting medical cases: mysterious illnesses, symptoms seemingly without cause or relat
This is the best book that ever made me never want to eat again.

Or go outside.

Or even take a vitamin.

This book will straight up RUIN YOUR LIFE, but it is so goddamn good. Edlow hits just about every literary kink I have: snappy writing, educational (but interesting) asides, mysterious happenings, and just the right level of Gruesome Detail. Because each incident is a short vignette, it's easy to break up your reading - but to be honest, I fucking inhaled this book.

Recommend it to literally ever
This book by Dr. Jonathan Edlow is the result of combining great mysteries with great medicine. The author, in his preface, talks about his lifelong fascination with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and it seems only right that he should find a unique way to combine both his love of 'whodunits' with his love of medicine. The case studies in this book are diverse... some deal with pathogens being introduced into the body and some are interestingly about health 'habits' which turn out to be not s ...more
"Last, each of these miniature mysteries had all the elements of any good story-- plot, character, and setting. The writing placed the reader in the midst of the investigation, just like Dr. Watson, the sidekick to Holmes." So the author explains his love for Berton Roueche's "The Medical Detectives". Unfortunately, the writing in The Deadly Dinner Party is weak-to-non-existant on all three counts. (I mean, technically they're all there, ish, but the prose is such that it's really hard to notice ...more
Enjoyable read for folks who like a good medical whodunit, however, it suffers from the short comings of Edlow as a writer. At times awkward and prone to an abundance of digression, Edlow does get round to telling the story of each medical case, but he has difficultly maintaining the thread of tension that would turn such dramas from merely interesting to downright riveting.
Stopped reading halfway through. This book sucks. The medical mysteries are all boring and decades old. The author sidetracks a lot to even more boring and irrelevant topics. He's not a very good writer. Skip this unless you have insomnia
This interesting book was a collection of short stories, each detailing the events surrounding odd patient symptoms and their subsequent diagnoses. Each chapter contained its own story, which was a nice change from a typical novel. The author covers a range of mysteries including vitamin toxicity to the water conditions in a hot tub. I thought it was very interesting! The author also provided a history of medicine throughout the book. At times it added to the story and context and at other times ...more
Amanda Racanelli
Not my most favorite mystery book, but not the worst, either. Also read for HOSA at work/school.
A very readable book I picked up after I read Hot Zone. I'm fascinated by this kind of stuff- plagues, pandemics, etc,- from a historical point of view, but also because they beat any horror novel out there when it comes down to it.

A lot of the virus hunter type books out there are just variations of the same events (for example, The Hot Zone and Virus Hunter are simple two different viewpoints of the same set of crisis), and there is also the issue of just how they are written. Some are very dr
Just when you thought it was safe to drink milk, fresh apple cider, soak in a hot tub at a resort, or even work in your office, this set of medical emergencies which leave doctors scratching their heads. Taken from true cases, with just the identities of the patients changed, these stories read like episodes of House.

Following investigators with the Center of Disease Control & Prevention in some cases are called in when multiple similar cases arise which have all the hallmarks of an impendi
Chapter 1, Botulism Reheat your food thoroughly before you eat it! Chapter 2 Typhoid People from other countries can have it and be carriers. It makes me wonder if eating in a restaurant is such a great idea.
Chapter 3 Plesiomonas shigelloides Your fish tank can make you sick. Chapter 4 Pseudomonas aeruginosa Do not use loofas or anything else that doesn't dry out between bathings.
Chapter 5 E. coli Do not buy unpasteurized apple cider from a small cider operator.
Chapter 6 Tick paralysis Examine
No one likes being sick. All too often many people move through their day only to realize, later on (or even right from the moment they wake up) that something isn't quite right. In many cases, it's a minor, easily-treatable thing that eating or taking some over-the-counter medicine can easily counteract. Other times, it's not quite so easy to treat, but nothing that a day in with some bed rest won't cure: a fever, perhaps, or a migraine.

And then there are the times when the situation is far gr
The book starts off with guests getting very ill after a dinner party. Well, dinner party is a bit too fancy of a term. It was more like a dad scrounged together some grub from the fridge and served it to some teens and their parents who happened to stop by. Anyway, the usual suspects of meat and cheese are ruled out before the doctor traces the sickness to the garlic oil used on garlic bread. Botchulism occurs naturally in the ground and sometimes garlic can "catch it," so the message to me is ...more
I really enjoyed this. It is, as described in the extended title, a collection of medical mysteries. Even though I work in the medical field, many of the conditions I had never heard of before. The author presents each case well and explains things an appropriate level -- not too simple, not too complex -- and defines medical terms that the general public might not be familiar with. While not a "wow, this is the most amazing book ever!" kind of 5-star read, I really couldn't think of anything th ...more
I read this for a book club. We all anticipated a little more story about medical mysteries and a little less slogging through the facts of medical diagnosis and medical history. I'm glad I read it, and it gave me new appreciation for how hard it is to make an accurate diagnosis in many medical cases, but I wouldn't call it a gripping read.
Allyson Dyar
Mar 09, 2014 Allyson Dyar rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Berton Roueche fans
The Deadly Dinner Party: and Other Medical Detective Stories by Jonathan A. Edlow, M.D. is a true worthy successor to Berton Roueche. Accept no substitutes! This book is the real deal!

In all seriousness, The Deadly Dinner Party is exactly how Berton Roueche would have approached the subjects covered here with the introduction of the patients and their sickness; the doctors who uncovered the medical mystery, the history behind the disease in question; the treatment and aftermath. Pure Roueche at
A bit overinvolved for me. The frame stories of disease were fascinating and the history of how the diagnoses came about was strong, but I felt it was a little heavy on the scholarly for a book that I wanted to be a bit more "Dr. House" and a bit less informative. This could be a great book if you like the information. I just found it to be a bit too thorough.
Definitely worth a read. While not quite as engaging as The Woman with a Worm in Her Head by Dr. Pam Nagimi but it contained several interesting cases and had a lot of background information on the diseases presented. I'd recommend this if you're interested in medicine, infectious diseases, or a just curious about how the process of tracking and diagnosing diseases occurs.
Rachel Mcwilliams
The Deadly Dinner Party was a very fascinating read. It is easy to pick up and put down because there are 15 independent stories. Some of them I found to e more interesting than others, but overall they were great.
If you are any level of a hypochondriac though... there may be a few more things, like me, that you are paranoid about-- fish, put-lucks and loofas just to name a few-- but I am okay with that added awareness!
Dr. Edlow wrote the book to be an interesting read for people who are fami
If you enjoy reading about medicine and medical mysteries, this is a fine choice. Each chapter is highly readable, and the author, an MD, fills out each mystery with anecdotes and medical facts that will make you appreciate his deft retelling of each situation.
Fun and interesting and terrifying! Structured like a series of Sherlock Holmes short stories. Takeaway: Don't take so many herbal or vitamin supplements because you'll inadvertently poison yourself or someone else.
Basically, where "House" got all its stories. Read this, and you will basically never eat again. Or leave the house. Or eat healthy. Or go on vacation. Everything can and will kill you. Have a nice day!
DO NOT read this book if you have even the mildest of tendencies toward hypochondria or OCD. Unless you also have tendencies toward masochism, in which case, enjoy!

What I've learned:

1) It is not safe to eat processed foods.
2) It is not safe to eat unprocessed foods.
3) Other terrifying health hazards include swimming pools, tropical fish, hay, air-conditioned buildings, and, of course, ticks.
4) My long-standing conviction that sponges are gross has been justified. I'm right to not want to touch t
If you are a fan of the TV series House, this book may interest you and even if you are not, and are just interested in medical diagnostics, this is a good book to read. It is all about medical detective work, with an easy to follow writing style. No medical jargon, so the lay person can understand and appreciate. Each chapter presents a patient with certain symptoms and then the author goes about telling the story as to how they got diagnosed and sometimes misdiagnosed. Included, is a short his ...more
I read this because I like the TV show House, and the general idea of a book about diagnostic medicine in the context of unusual symptoms. I enjoyed reading this book, and learned a little (no more apple cider at little Christmas tree farms for me, unless I ask about how they wash their apples!), but the material was fairly dated. In other words, most of the detective stories are set in the 70s or 80s, and would nowadays be solved much more easily because of MRIs and CT scans and the like. In ot ...more
Awesome book! Reads just like episodes of House. Very entertaining. (coming from a huge Sherlock fan.)
I may never eat again.
A book with good information and good facts, but I don't think they built up the mystery part of the medical mystery as much as they could have. Instead of building tension they provided background information. While obviously a non-fiction book, bringing in some red herrings or more emotion would have made this book more catching. Still enjoyed the stories very much - and a veterinarian appreciated some of the species cross over. Well written and interesting cases!
Shafiq Taliba
Certainly not the nest of these types of books (I'd recommend Laurie Garrett' s "The Coming Plague," despite its length, anything by Oliver Saks or Berton Rouche, and "The Family That Couldn't Sleep," by D.T. Max) but it doesn't fall wholly flat, either.
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