A brief work that, despite a few problems, still has a lot to say about moral choices and patient-care standards.

Being and Becoming

A debut novella by a Pennsylvania-based physician about a doctor facing ethical conundrums.

Thirty-six-year-old Arya Krish works for the Washington, D.C.-based Beacon Medical Institute, which has an international reputation for biotechnology research and philanthropy. “We are the sum of our choices,” he thinks, in a “process of being and becoming.” This short, introspective piece of fiction delves into the moral compromises that doctors face, via flashbacks to the four previous years. The protagonist’s late father, a Nobel laureate, was a founding Institute member working on biotech innovations for A1 Group, later called Alpha Corp. Krish believes that A1 was responsible for his father’s death in a car crash, a conspiracy theory that has made him suspicious of Alpha ever since. At the same time, Alpha funds the Institute’s humanitarian projects in India. While visiting that country, Krish becomes embroiled in political bribery and blackmail as he pushes for permits and tax exemptions for his orphanage and medical clinic. He questions whether such morally dubious behavior is worthwhile and frets over his alliance with Alpha—especially after their questionable testing methods for a project called Panacea come to light. When Krish contemplates taking Alpha down from the inside, the book approaches spy-novel clichés. However, it never loses its philosophical bent. Author Prativadi is sensitive to ethical nuances and the difficult decisions involved in caring for the disabled and elderly. His protagonist has compassion for a man whose wife is paralyzed and realizes that a 90-year-old with Alzheimer’s is receiving overzealous intervention. The author also skewers the health care industry’s influence: “Ultimately, the insurance company got to decide what happens to the patient. It was an insidious takeover.” However, his secondary characters seem undeveloped—particularly Krish’s wife and son, who only appear in the last few pages. There are some homonym slips (“It was you’re doing”; “We can pick up the reigns”, and others) and awkward phrases (“the more the external forces of the world around him exerted its pressure”; “He could palpate the tension”). Otherwise, however, this a well-plotted, reflective book with resonant metaphors and descriptive language.

A brief work that, despite a few problems, still has a lot to say about moral choices and patient-care standards.

Pub Date: April 27, 2016

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more