PULSE by Felix Francis


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A female lead, ailing but remarkably strong, joins all the males, many with similar profiles, who’ve helmed the storied father-and-son horse-racing franchise (Triple Crown, 2016, etc.).

Emergency room specialist Dr. Chris Rankin has always struggled with depression, anorexia, and panic attacks. So it’s no surprise when she feels an attack coming on just as an unconscious man found in a lavatory cubicle at the Cheltenham Racecourse is wheeled into the ER at Cheltenham Hospital; he’s suffering from an unidentified malady that’s making his heart race at an unsustainable speed. No surprise, but certainly an inconvenience to all hands. Despite her own fluttering heart, Chris requests several tests and then orders a drug that will slow down the man’s wildly beating heart. While she’s tending to an accident victim, her patient dies, sending her into a spiral of guilt and depression. The cause of death is soon established—a massive cocaine overdose—but not the man’s identity or the question of how the drug got into his system. Convinced that he was murdered, Chris, released from a stint in the local psychiatric hospital and struck by injured jockey Dick McGee’s reaction to the anonymous victim’s photograph while she’s tending him as one of the racetrack’s medical officers, makes a few casual inquiries. Then she makes a few more. Then she gets the first of several increasingly pointed warnings to quit asking questions. The warnings are seconded by the police, who find her interference annoying, and her husband, engineer Grant Rankin, who’s deeply worried about her. Does she quit? She does not, though her first-person account of her increasingly perilous investigation into an elaborate spot-fixing scheme punctiliously telegraphs every nasty development in dire chapter endings that recall the glory days of Nancy Drew.

Despite all the heavy-handed foreshadowing, an efficient, steadily absorbing suspenser guaranteed to draw in even fans who can’t stand horses.

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-399-57473-3
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2017


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