Authentic characters and a vivid hospital setting enhance a tense medical tale.

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In this debut thriller, a Memphis anesthesiologist suspects a neurosurgeon of intentionally harming—and sometimes killing—patients.

Dr. Roxanne Roth has trained hard to overcome her fear of losing a patient while administering anesthesia. Her fiance, Mark, died five years ago during a relatively simple surgery. While she’s had no romantic interest since that tragedy, there’s currently a mutual attraction between her and the resident doctor she works with, Justin Kirkland. But she’s less fond of a surgeon she periodically assists: Dr. D.K. Webb. The medical executive committee has Webb under review after two of his patients had serious postoperative complications, including a stroke. Readers know that Webb has performed surgeries while intoxicated and is a regular cocaine user. When his carelessness leads to a patient’s death, Roxanne believes Webb purposefully made the fatal cut. Her new goal is to see that Webb’s medical license is revoked. Webb, meanwhile, is determined to wield the scalpel and maintain his drug habit. He’s an exceedingly dangerous man whose disturbing behavior soon captures the attention of other medical professionals as well as the authorities. As Webb’s misdeeds escalate, Roxanne attempts to involve the Drug Enforcement Administration, but Webb may find a way to target the anesthesiologist. Shiloah excels at character development. Roxanne, for example, is an empathetic protagonist who feels guilt over a patient’s death, even when it’s unquestionably Webb’s fault. Romance is delightfully complicated: Roxanne can’t help but compare Justin to Mark, and her earlier one-stand night with a co-worker may cause problems for her potential relationship. At the same time, there’s a growing uneasiness surrounding Webb, who seems to enjoy cutting patients and turns progressively creepier. Along with convincing dramatic moments, Shiloah writes astute and occasionally exhilarating hospital scenes that readers unfamiliar with medical jargon will effortlessly follow.

Authentic characters and a vivid hospital setting enhance a tense medical tale. (acknowledgements)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73519-300-7

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2020


Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.

A much-beloved author gives a favorite recurring character her own novel.

Holly Gibney made her first appearance in print with a small role in Mr. Mercedes (2014). She played a larger role in The Outsider (2018). And she was the central character in If It Bleeds, a novella in the 2020 collection of the same name. King has said that the character “stole his heart.” Readers adore her, too. One way to look at this book is as several hundred pages of fan service. King offers a lot of callbacks to these earlier works that are undoubtedly a treat for his most loyal devotees. That these easter eggs are meaningless and even befuddling to new readers might make sense in terms of costs and benefits. King isn’t exactly an author desperate to grow his audience; pleasing the people who keep him at the top of the bestseller lists is probably a smart strategy, and this writer achieved the kind of status that whatever he writes is going to be published. Having said all that, it’s possible that even his hardcore fans might find this story a bit slow. There are also issues in terms of style. Much of the language King uses and the cultural references he drops feel a bit creaky. The word slacks occurs with distracting frequency. King uses the phrase keeping it on the down-low in a way that suggests he probably doesn’t understand how this phrase is currently used—and has been used for quite a while. But the biggest problem is that this narrative is framed as a mystery without delivering the pleasures of a mystery. The reader knows who the bad guys are from the start. This can be an effective storytelling device, but in this case, waiting for the private investigator heroine to get to where the reader is at the beginning of the story feels interminable.

Loyal King stans may disagree, but this is a snooze.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781668016138

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023


Lots of violent action with little payoff.

Jack Ryan Jr. is back to risk life and limb in saving a teenage girl from international killers while his father, U.S. President Jack Ryan Sr., figures out what to do with Iran’s clandestine uranium enrichment facility, hidden in a mine.

Junior, head of the secret intelligence outfit The Campus, which was functionally wiped out in Tom Clancy Flash Point (2023), is heading across Texas to a rendezvous with his fiancee, Lisanne Robertson, a one-armed former Marine and cop. He’s waylaid by the aftermath of a multi-vehicle accident that he discovers resulted from a gun attack that left a driver hanging on for life, and now puts Jack in the crosshairs of the gunmen. A tip leads him to a 4 a.m. meeting with Amanda, a single mom whose impetuous daughter, Bella, has run off with her highly undesirable boyfriend only to be abducted by the baddies. Meanwhile...in the nation’s capital, American surveillance has determined that Iran is on the cusp of nuclear armament. The only way to stop them is unleashing an unpiloted and untested super plane with massive destructive power. The book’s treatment of Iran’s “existential threat to the entire globe” as a subplot is rather curious, to say the least. You keep waiting for Bentley to connect the two stories, but that happens only superficially. Late in the book, we are told as an afterthought that Iran’s immediate threat had been “mitigated.” Unfortunately, there is no mitigation of the novel’s hackneyed prose—"The analytical portion of Jack’s brain couldn’t help but be impressed.”

Lots of violent action with little payoff.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9780593422816

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023

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