A homeless veteran goes undercover at a New York hospital, where the doctors dabble in black-market organ harvesting and resort to murder to preserve secrets in this debut medical thriller.
Former Army medic Joshua Davis has a chance to get off the streets. All he has to do is get a job at the Urological Transplant Center…and complete a simple task that will allow dubious, nonpracticing lawyer Morgan Booth, who hired Joshua, to engage in a bit of blackmail. Joshua swaps a couple of patients and their files: businessman Andrew Porter, in for a penis transplant, and Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Lawrence Madison, a kidney donor. Bugged rooms (thanks to Joshua) record center owner/CEO Dr. Damon Clarkson discussing an organ theft from not-quite-dead Phil Bradford—plenty of information for Morgan’s extortion. But while Clarkson can fabricate an emergency to explain Andrew’s missing kidney, Lawrence’s new penis is a genuine concern. When Clarkson decides it’d be easier just to kill Lawrence, Joshua steps in and covertly rolls Lawrence to safety. Unfortunately, now the center is invested in silencing the blackmailer as well as the mysteriously absent medical tech, hiring thugs who manage to abduct Morgan. It’s up to Joshua and Morgan’s trusty chauffeur, Basil, to rescue him while keeping themselves alive in the process. The novel, a rousing thriller, hits on a few essential themes. Carter handles race especially well; Lawrence stipulates whites-only for a potential kidney recipient but has a change of heart after meeting Mary, a sickly but bubbly young black girl. Impressive action scenes come courtesy of targeted Joshua and Basil, who have the resources to arm themselves to the teeth. The story’s inconsistent tone is, at times, baffling. Phil’s widow, Cynthia, for example, feeling the heartbeat of the man with her husband’s transplanted heart, is understated and tender. In contrast, Cynthia’s initiating sex with Lawrence (and part of Phil) plays like a farce and leads to an unconvincing romance between the two. Carter, however, does provide depth for his protagonist: Joshua, a junkie when Morgan found him, struggles in his gig as pharmacy dispenser with access to copious drugs.
A novel that suffers a little from genre confusion but still entertains, with a brisk, steady pace.