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by Larry Karp

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59058-973-1
Publisher: Poisoned Pen

When a veteran detective investigates a baffling murder-suicide, he uncovers a medical morass and some profound ethical questions.

Dr. Colin Sanford, an obstetric superstar at his hospital in metropolitan Emerald, Wash., is taken aback by the news that his colleague Dr. Giselle Hearn has been shot to death by James Kennett, the husband of one of his patients, in an apparent murder/suicide. Flashback to a year ago, when Sanford first meets Hearn, an expert geneticist somewhat restricted in her research because she works at a Catholic hospital. In 1976, the world of in vitro fertilization is nascent at best. Sanford's patients include James and Joyce Kennett, an infertile couple desperate for a child. Sanford, who has boundless ambition and, apparently, loose ethics, entices Hearn to work secretly with him on impregnating Joyce. Bernie Baumgartner, the veteran detective who's investigating the Kennett killings, enters the story even as Sanford's flashbacks continue. Sanford reluctantly admits to the reader that the process was not easy but reveals that Joyce gave birth to a healthy boy, whom she and James named Robbie. There'll be a spot of attempted blackmail by Hearn's colleague Alma Wanego, and plenty of spicy goulash and tart opinions served up by Bernie's Hungarian wife Irma.

Alternating first-person narratives from the self-important surgeon and the hard-boiled sleuth add texture to this series kickoff from Karp (The King of Ragtime, 2008, etc.). Well paced and intriguing.