A hospital’s controversial program puts a physician and his family in harm’s way.
It is a groan-worthy pun to say that Edwards’ (Final Mercy, 2013) Dr. Jack Forester sequel starts off with a bang. But the blast that rocks the New Canterbury Medical Center wounds 31, takes the life of Forester’s “teacher, mentor, friend, advisor, ally,” and sets in motion this thriller. At issue is something called the Gilchrist Tube Project. It is the hospital’s top priority, but the dead Dr. James Gavin had reservations about it. So does a biochemist, who shares these opinions with Forester at Gavin’s memorial service. “If something were to happen to me,” he confides, “I would want someone like you to know.” Not long after, the man is reported missing. It just so happens that he was the lover of the wife of the hospital’s new dean. She asks her friend Zellie, the former investigative reporter now married to Forester, to look into the matter (“You know how to dig into things”). Zellie finds that bad things happen to those who oppose the program and want to reveal its secrets. What is the Gilchrist Tube Project? Originally, it was “designed to return a woman’s fertility when her fallopian tubes are damaged.” To reveal how it will truly be used would be a spoiler, but what is a thriller without a “hidden agenda”? Meanwhile, the bomber, a drug-addicted war veteran, is in thrall to a shadowy organization that is determined to stop the implementation of the project at all costs. When, following the initial bombing, the hospital decides to proceed with the program, the group dispatches its soldier to help “give Satan and his servants a message they will never forget.” Within the framework of this well-sustained, suspenseful thriller, Edwards effectively examines issues of medical morality and ethics, corporate greed, and office politics. At one point, Forester tells Zellie why Gavin, “an old-fashioned idealist,” never liked the Gilchrist Tube Project: “Because it was being pushed so hard. And the funding sources weren’t transparent. That wasn’t how things should be.” While the appearance of sinister villains pulling the strings behind the scenes borders on cliché, other key players are empathetically fleshed out with motives that, while reprehensible, are true to their characters.
This sequel is just what the doctor ordered and gives the budding franchise a shot of adrenaline.