Flesh-eating staph germs and for-profit hospitals share billing as the top villains in this year’s medical thriller from Cook (Marker, 2005, etc.).
Angela Dawson, M.D., MBA, is close to redeeming herself from the humiliation she suffered when her inner-city clinic went into bankruptcy. Armed with the best business knowledge money can buy, she has established a string of free-standing surgical hospitals for the perfectly insured, where the poor and those in need of emergency medicine need not apply. So successful and so profitable had been Angels Healthcare L.L.C. that Dr. Dawson and the colleagues who bought into her concept are about to make a fortune as the firm goes public. Except that the wheels are coming off fast enough to give the toughest business and medical professional world-class acid reflux. Patient after patient undergoing surgery in Angels hospitals has been succumbing to incredibly fast-acting staph infections, and no amount of scrubbing, disinfecting or filtering can put a stop to the bacterial invasion. Angela’s business plan is in the tank as elective surgeries have dried up until the surgeons can be satisfied that their liposuctions won’t lead to the grave. Surely the Securities and Exchange Commission or the IRS or whoever will understand why Angela and her accountant haven’t tattled on themselves as the IPO draws close. It’s nothing but germs, right? Not so, says recurring pathologist Laurie Montgomery, whose hubby and New York City pathology colleague Jack Stapleton is due to get his ACL replaced at one of Angela’s luxurious hospitals. Laurie wants to get to the bottom of the medical mystery before Jack goes under the knife. She would be even more worried if she knew that mobsters were in the mix, or that Angela’s chief accountant is the unidentified floater who bobbed to the surface off Manhattan and is now lying on a gurney in her morgue.
Mild tension, easily relieved.