A California physician investigates a politician’s death in this debut thriller that incorporates military and medical elements.
Wyatt Stryker—a former Navy SEAL and current San Diego emergency room doctor—is U.S. Sen. Mark Ripp’s personal physician and security consultant. While vacationing with the senator at his beach home in Mexico, Stryker catches a burglar and almost gets killed in the process. When he returns home with his wife, they’re both anxiously looking forward to reuniting with his 10-year old son, Blake, but the couple discover the babysitter tied up and the boy missing. Soon after, Stryker finds out that the senator—an iconic political figure who was being touted as a potential presidential candidate—has unexpectedly died, allegedly from an accidental overdose of pills. Stryker enlists the help of his longtime buddy Navy SEAL Commander Javier Alcaraz (“Javier and I had been through a lot. He was unbelievably intelligent and had a quiet strength, both physically and mentally. He was the best soldier I’d ever known and the best friend I’d ever had”). Stryker believes the senator was murdered but has no suspects (“Who’d want to kill Mark? He was a moderate, a rare animal these days”). Seeking to locate and rescue Blake before it’s too late, Javier and Stryker begin a perilous quest to tie together the seemingly unconnected events. Russell (Miracles and Mayhem in the ER, 2013) is a former ER doctor, and there is much to like about his pedal-to-the-metal novel; the character development is strong and the plot intricate. But the most noteworthy narrative element turns out to be the author’s obsessive focus on pacing and action. The conflict (both psychological and physical) in this 400-plus-page novel never flags, making it virtually impossible to put down. Additionally, the action scenes aren’t overdone (as is the case in many comparable reads); they’re realistically choreographed, fitting organically into the storyline. Another element of note is Stryker’s main nemesis, the assassin Behram. The author seems to take great pleasure in not only creating a nightmare-inducing villain, but also devising the various ways he receives his karmic comeuppance. This page-turner is a perfect read for armchair adrenaline junkies.
While not thematically deep, this first installment in a series featuring Stryker delivers testosterone-driven escapist literature at its best: fast, furious, and fun.