A dramatic, high-stakes drama centered on a health care fraud.
Orthopedic surgeon Kreis (The Pain Doc, 2013, etc.) has parlayed his extensive medical acumen into impressively dynamic medical thrillers. In his latest, Ariadne Corporation, a health care organization which also administers retirement communities, is poised to acquire Widmark Medical in a blockbuster merger. Anxious Argentinian-German immigrant Karl Ramirez, a manager at Michigan-based Bloomeer Medical Supply, is offered a lucrative opportunity to lead the company’s home-care division. Then, suspiciously, employee Marshall Widmark is found dead, an apparent suicide. As Karl adjusts to his new job at Ariadne, he finds evidence that the company has been systematically purchasing unnecessary equipment and that physicians on the Ariadne dole are performing unnecessary surgeries and charging Medicare for them. Meanwhile, FBI agent Tony Evans learns more about the operation and begins working with (and romancing) Janique Halstrom, Ariadne’s lead marketing representative. As both become embroiled in the scam, Gillian Russell of the U.S. Department of Justice’s health care fraud task force has her hands full investigating the physicians in Ariadne’s pocket. Her sting operation finds a whole lot of fraud—and puts all the characters in harm’s way. The novel’s prose can sometimes be clunky (“His father made an awkward gesture suggesting he was about to give Tony an uncharacteristic hug”), particularly in early chapters, in which the author seems to have difficulty developing the plot and characters simultaneously. Once the plot is established, however, Karl, Janique and crew capably handle the illegalities and swiftly bring down the Medicare fraud. Kreis dedicates this thriller to the “millions of healthcare workers who deliver honest, ethical and cost-effective care to Americans on a daily basis,” and he obviously had a grand time crafting all the minor details. Overall, he delivers an often engrossing, if occasionally uneven, entertainment.
A topical, serpentine thriller with a conscience.