A troubled physician becomes the scapegoat for a nefarious exploitation plot.
This debut medical thriller opens with the revenge murder of attorney Carl Hafen, with the events leading up to that homicide forming the thrust of the story. Jack Andrews, a 40-year-old longtime anesthesiologist, becomes inexplicably embroiled in a wrongful death lawsuit and a pawn in a larger scheme to frame him for malpractice. Andrews’ personal life has seen better days: his marriage to wife Kate, a relentlessly manipulative bully, has soured despite two daughters whom he adores. A regular at the local shooting range, he finds his escape with target practice and big game hunting. Things go from bad to worse when, after a routine stomach surgery, a patient dies under Andrews’ postoperative care. Despite multiple attempts at life-preserving medical intervention, Andrews is pegged as the negligent physician by his contemporaries. A malpractice suit ensues, spearheaded by Hafen, who takes advantage of the doctor’s interpersonal vulnerability and good nature and skewers him during a deposition. Trouble mounts further when Andrews’ wife files for divorce, seeking primary custody of their daughters, and he loses the malpractice trial and must pay substantial monetary damages. In a dramatic turn of events, Andrews becomes bent on revenge. An unhinged man with a now-destroyed reputation, he angrily morphs into a vigilante for justice and begins viciously and systematically stalking and targeting those who conspired against him in the trial in a calculated display of retribution. Veldt, a veteran operating room physician, exhibits a grand command of clinical terminology and hospital protocol (“Morbidity and mortality conferences are a universal exercise in all medical centers. These rounds feature frank discussions concerning what caused, or is thought to have caused, a particular patient’s poor results”). This sets the stage for an impressively written, fast-paced, graphically depicted hospital melodrama. His deft narrative includes the dogged sleuthing of a seasoned homicide detective seeking to stop Andrews. The investigator searches for hard evidence against a slick hero who declares himself merely “a product of the system.”
A cleverly crafted, suspenseful yarn built around the volatile nature of medicine and malfeasance.