In Hewitt’s debut thriller, a doctor in trouble with the law agrees to oversee a maximum security prison’s medical unit and learns that a notoriously violent inmate may be the answer to combatting the AIDS virus.
After a car accident leaves his date, Cindy, seriously injured, Dr. Jack Randolph has two choices: sit in jail for six months awaiting trial (and possible manslaughter charges if Cindy dies) or become the temporary prison doctor at the Georgia Maximum Security Prison in Lester, Ga. He opts for the latter and, after reviewing inmate files, realizes that prisoner Henry Kirk had tested positive for the HIV virus but that his last couple of tests were negative. Kirk’s blood, therefore, may help develop a cure for AIDS. But getting samples won’t be easy; the inmate is known for his ferocity, including the rape and murder of a prison doctor—Jack’s predecessor. The author doesn’t miss an opportunity to build tension: The book opens with Dr. Amy Bridge entering the prison, and it’s revealed almost immediately that she won’t survive. From there, the suspense escalates slowly but effectively as Kirk initiates his planned assault by convincing guards to take him to medical. The story outside the prison walls is just as successful. Just prior to her accident, Cindy, who works for a corrupt, cocaine-smuggling sheriff, was being followed while on her date with Jack. She has a thumb drive with evidence that could incriminate Sheriff Odum and his right-hand man, Maj. Knowles. While the novel’s first half brims with painstakingly plotted, tension-wrought scenes, the second half feels rushed: Jack takes the prison job as a type of “community service” and learns of Kirk’s condition; the convict cooks up an even more nefarious and elaborate scheme; and Jack and nurse Tacy quickly succumb to their mutual physical attraction, which stretches believability when it becomes a legitimate relationship in record time. Fortunately, the story picks up again once Knowles re-enters the picture. He keeps an eye on Jack and Tacy while looking for the flash drive. Despite the numerous subplots, Hewitt skillfully resolves every one.
Despite a few bumps, this pulls readers along for a wild ride.