Sunday, February 22, 2015

Book Review - Where Death is a Hunter by Chris Stookey

Release Date: May 2015
Genre: Thriller
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Here's the Summary:

Hannah Fâtier is a thirty-two-year-old physician fresh out of residency training. She’s just started her first job as an anesthesiologist at Deaconess Hospital in San Francisco, she’s bought a new home, and she’s engaged to be married.

In short, life is good for Hannah--until, one morning at work, tragedy strikes. A patient under her care dies unexpectedly during a routine operation. An investigation into the case reveals the cause of death to be a basic medical error committed by Hannah. Wracked with guilt, Hannah falls into a malaise of depression and self-reproach. Yet the more she ponders her alleged “error,” the more she realizes that something about the way her patient died doesn’t add up. Digging deeper into the records of the case, Hannah discovers a number of puzzling inconsistencies. She begins to suspect that someone has framed her for a medical mistake she never made. But who would do such a thing and why? And, more importantly, if there was no medical error, then why did her patient really die that morning on the operating table?

Where Death Is a Hunter is a medical mystery/thriller dealing with hospital death, betrayal, one doctor’s self-doubt, and the search for redemption.
My Review:
This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Good:

Mr. Stookey has a way with descriptions that I like; they’re not flowery or over the top, but vivid and to the point. The story also had a nice pace to it. At no point did I feel like it dragged on or that it was rushed. I also liked the fact that the author took time to develop his characters. I feel like I could run into any of these people on the street and be like “Oh, hey! Sorry about horrible thing that happened to you.” Except for Dr. Lu... I'd smack her. lol And that horrible lawyer lady, Ms. Bellows.

I LOVED Hannah, the POV character. She’s smart, loving and tenacious. Once she realized something was off about what happened in the Operating Room she never quit fighting to find out the truth. Not only for herself but for the victim. Her deep friendship with her ex also endeared me to her. It takes an incredibly secure person to be able to do that, and to be so accepting of their current partner on top of it. Kudos to the author for not going the clichéd route of bitterness and jealousy.

Now… about the plotline. We start off with a bang in Operating Room 3 where Deborah Thein (wife of the head Dermatologist at Deaconess Hospital) flatlines before her scheduled breast augmentation even begins, and Hannah (the anesthesiologist) is in charge of saving her life until the Code Blue team can get there. But despite everyone’s tireless efforts, Ms. Thein dies anyway. And while her death is untimely and tragic, it seems it was nothing more than a bad reaction to the drugs or some other unknown cause that was no fault of anyone’s in the Operating Room, key word being seems. When the autopsy report is released, we then learn that the cause of death was a misplaced breathing tube, and you can guess who they’re pointing fingers at – Hannah. Except… except Hannah remembers placing the breathing tube without incident. So something is wrong. Way wrong. Not only that, but something is off with the rest of the ‘evidence’ they have against Hannah, as well, so with the help of her appointed hot surfer/ lawyer (that she has to have because Mr. Thein is suing her for malpractice), they set out to find the truth. And so the rest of the novel spirals us down a rabbit hole of deceit and conspiracy with delicious twists and turns along the way.

My kind of novel. ;)

I have to mention here, though, that I don’t usually read a lot of medical or legal dramas, but because the main character is so well conceived and the novel hooks you from the get-go, I can’t see many people turning this novel down no matter what your preferred genre. I also learned a lot about the medical world, namely anesthesiologists. I have a newfound respect for them. Not that I didn’t have respect for them before, but they deserve a lot more credit than they receive.
Here’s my favorite quote:

“Although a lot of patients don’t seem to appreciate us much (anesthesiologists don’t get a lot of Thank You cards), we are really a patient’s best friend. Really. The surgeon is merely a technician, a mechanic who knows how to wield a scalpel. The anesthesiologist, on the other hand, is a friendly wizard who turns a painful and frightening experience – the operation – into a painless, timeless dreamland.

You’re welcome.”

The Bad:

This isn’t really bad, per se, just something that I found odd: why in the world Hannah never reached out to her mother during any of this. After everything that happened, she didn’t even make a phone call? A text? A visit? It was always Anesu (her ex) she was reaching out to. The only time a daughter wouldn’t reach out to her mother during a crisis would be if they’re on bad terms or estranged, but Hannah was neither of those, if I remember correctly. I get waiting to break news because you don’t want to worry them, but it’s a little, a lot, inconceivable that she never reached out… at all. Not to mention my mom would have my *ss if I ever kept all of that from her. lol I’d be afraid not to tell her!

The Ugly:

Nothing to say in this category.

In conclusion, this well-thought-out medical thriller drew me in from the first page and had me hooked until the end. With a cast of dynamic, believable characters and a plotline rife with tension and suspense, this un-put-down-able book will keep you up all hours of the night.

About the Author:

Christopher Stookey, MD, is an emergency physician and author. HIs first novel, Terminal Care (also a medical mystery/thriller), was published in 2010. In his spare time, Chris enjoys surfing and mountain biking. He lives with his wife and two dogs in Laguna Beach, California.
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