Abused patients enact their own brand of justice against remorseless staffers in Kopet’s (Sarah’s Tomorrow, 2012, etc.) novel.
Belvedere Manor is a facility that treats people with a variety of physical or psychological problems. Unfortunately, director Sal Manfassi and operations manager Milo Drew are more concerned with “extra billings”—filing insurance claims for services that weren’t rendered—than providing adequate care. Other staffers are involved in the fraud, but the hospital’s worst offenders are head nurse Jack Tridon and nurse Gail Summun; together, the pair have been sexually assaulting a number of patients on a regular basis. The staff has convinced patients’ family members that their loved ones are mentally incompetent, so their pleas for help go unheeded. One Belvedere resident, former schoolteacher Mary Archer, takes the initiative and gathers her fellow patients for a makeshift trial, in which Jack and Gail are, in absentia, found guilty and deserving of punishment. Mary also warns two new patients of potential abuse: Sam Termine, who’s rehabilitating after abdominal surgery, and elderly Florence Danzell, who’s in need of full-time care. But will justice be served before anyone else suffers at the hands of the sadistic nurses? Kopet’s story is populated by diverse characters, but the focus on newcomers Sam and Florence effectively exposes the hospital’s duplicities in different ways: bedridden Sam is overmedicated, and Sal assures Florence’s oblivious daughter, Danielle Turner, that her mom is just fine. The author gradually amps up the tension: At one point, Sam hides from someone in darkness; one of the staffers’ plotlines involves an extramarital affair complicated by blackmail; and a late plot turn comes as a surprise. Kopet’s mostly capable prose is occasionally offset by a failure to clearly establish scenes and settings; in some dialogue exchanges, it’s initially difficult to determine where the speakers are.
A mostly proficient thriller bolstered by distinctive characters and slowly building suspense.