Benedict (Fatal Complications, 2015, etc.), a retired Pennsylvania anesthesiologist, offers a sequel medical thriller starring Luke Daulton, a practicing anesthesiologist based in Harrisburg.
Luke is a young, sleep-deprived doctor who’s trying to establish his career to provide for his wife, Kim, and their 2-year-old daughter, Abi. But although Luke would never admit it, he’s also suffering from PTSD, resulting from the events in the previous novel. Luke’s biggest current problem, however, is co-worker Brandt Stevens, an intensive care nurse who deliberately puts patients in danger in order to save them and be seen as a hero. Brandt, a technological whiz, is also training to become a nurse anesthesiologist. His girlfriend, nurse Kaycee, assists new surgeon Dr. Ramon Salazar in a difficult procedure, and Brandt sabotages their surgical robot. Later, his crimes escalate and he frames Luke for them, whom he blames for his own failures. Fortunately, Kim, a crack computer programmer, is helping Luke—but her involvement may put her and Abi in mortal danger. Benedict puts a lot of effort into the medical aspects of this thriller, particularly when detailing the important role that an anesthesiologist plays in any surgery; at one point, Luke says, “The bottom line…is the inescapable cold, hard fact that not breathing for three or four minutes produces death. No exceptions.” As a result, the scenes set in the OR are vivid and at times alarming. His characters are engaging but sometimes the behavior of the arrogant Salazar, the manipulative Kaycee, and the self-important Brandt feels over the top. Most believable is Kim, a stay-at-home mom on maternity leave who obviously misses the adult interactions of her professional career. Overall, this well-paced novel feels much shorter than its 350-plus pages.
An energetic medical thriller that puts readers right into the action.