Tag Archive | Medical Fiction

The Fragrance Shed by a Violet

by Lin Wilder

If you follow my personal blog, https://newoldgirl.wordpress.com/ you are aware that I am NOT A FAN of the medical profession and feel great disdain for Big Pharma.  This attitude change occurred in the last 4 years and one additional side effect of the trauma of my iatrogenic illness was losing an entire genre of books.  I used to read every single medical thriller I could find, and laugh at the memory of my one overnight hospital stay where the book I was reading was by Robin Cook.  As a sort of exposure therapy, I decided to delve back into medical fiction and see if I could separate my own trauma from a fiction book.  I am so glad I discovered new indie author, Lin Wilder.  She was the perfect author to pull me back into my old stomping grounds.  blog

“The Fragrance Shed by a Violet” is not your typical medical thriller.  I would probably not even add “thriller” to the descriptor except that most books set in the medical industry do involve mayhem – murder, espionage, the evils of the industry, etc.  Wilder has written a book which involves the medical profession, but truly I felt this book was character driven.  Yes, Dr. Lindsey McCall is a brilliant researcher employed by a large Texas medical center, but there are so many pieces to this story, it felt more like contemporary fiction involving relationships rather than subterfuge.  This, I think, was key for me truly enjoying the work.  Wilder presents us strong, driven, intelligent female characters like McCall and investigative reporter Kate Townsend.  As the foil to those strong women, we also spend time with Lindsey’s sister, Paula a nurse with a troubled past who proves prominent in the direction Lindsey’s life takes.

As the sister of two alcoholic brothers who passed very early because of their disease, I felt a real connection to the siblings in this book.  As a reader, finding connections to characters brings the story to life and Wilder wrote a good story.  Wilder pulled me in not only with her writing but with the use of prophetic quotes at the start of each chapter, and the presence of spirituality in the story.  This did not read like smack-you-in-the-face Christian fiction, but as in many real lives, faith plays a role for some of her characters.  Reading this book was comfortable and enjoyable.

I did read the author bio prior to starting the book and I appreciated throughout my reading the fact that Wilder spent decades employed in the medical field.  Somehow, to me, knowing she had real life experience behind her gave a sense of legitimacy to her writing, especially during the parts where research and drug development was explored.  It was also quite clear that Lin Wilder is one smart cookie.  The novel is very well written, the characters are fleshed out and the story felt complete.  This was a great first medical book for me to start with and I highly recommend “The Fragrance Shed by a Violet.”

 

 

For the US Map Reading Challenge, this one is set in Texas.  Yes, I’ve read another Texas book this year, but it’s a big state so I’m recording this one as well.

Unfortunate Event

by Marc David Veldt

Confession time: I am a sucker for medical thrillers.  Starting in my teens I cut my teeth in this genre reading ALL of Michael Palmer, Robin Cook and Patricia Cornwell’s books.  It’s comfortable, with a predictable formula.

There is always:

  • an intelligent medical-based professional (a surgeon, ER doc, coroner)
  • a nefarious bad guy (big pharma agent, disreputable insurance company)
  • something bad happens to innocent patients
  • hero doctor is blamed
  • chaos ensues
  • doctor is redeemed

…and that’s what I expected when I started “Unfortunate Event.”  I’d even say that the first half of the book was a very typical medical thriller, but much better than you’d expect from a first time author.  The dialogue was believable, characters were interesting, plot was good.  Then, Veldt went off script and turned this traditional doctor based fiction into something else entirely.  And I loved it.  The protagonist acted in unexpected ways and drew the reader into his anti-hero role.  blog

Dr. Jack Andrews became less the amiable white-coated professional, and more like a Die Hard movie bad guy.  As a reader, Veldt made me like both sides of this coin.  And, more importantly, he made me root for Andrews both as good guy and “bad” guy.  The fact I even used parenthesis around “bad” guy tells you that my own moral compass is in question as I really liked the vendetta part of this medical thriller.

As his bio tells us, the author knows about medicine because he spent 35+ years as an operating room physician. What is surprising is how well he weaves a tale, and how much he seems to know about guns, violence and the underbelly of society.

Back in my day, authors wrote a book. If it was successful, perhaps they wrote a sequel. Today I’ve become the grumpy old man yelling at kids to stay off my lawn, whenever a brand new author titles their first book – book 1 in a series. We don’t need to live in a society where everyone presumes they are a future Peter Jackson trilogy. But, this book must continue. I felt cheated when it ended, because I don’t think the hero (antihero?) is done. I want to see what happens to him next. I think his new life could be compelling and I think Veldt has the chops to continue the story for us.

 

 

STATE CHALLENGE – this book is set in Nebraska.

I received this book as a gift, but my review is an honest opinion. I highly recommend.

 

 

Book #33 – Nano

by Robin Cook book

Ever have a relationship go bad, but you can’t stop checking his Facebook page?  My relationship with Robin Cook is similar.  He has written about 30 books, and I’ve read or listened to most of them, but I no longer experience pleasure when reading his material.  I keep doing it.  I can’t look away.  I see his name prominently displayed and my hand reaches for the book despite knowing I shouldn’t.  It’s like he has me bewitched.

But, alas, I am swearing before you all, “Nano” was my last time reading Mr. Cook.  I just can’t do it anymore.  I love a good medical thriller.  Despite some science which I may not understand, who among us can’t relate to illness, doctor visits, hospital stays – and one of Cook’s ultimate nemesis – insurance company greed.  After dozens of these novels, though, I am beginning to question if he is actually doing the writing, or if as speculated by others on the world wide interweb – are ghost writers now employed to keep churning out these novels?

“Nano” has to be the worst of all the Cook books I have read.  The story centers around a female medical researcher, Pia, with a mafia connected father and a social detachment disorder who is employed at a mystery facility where something is going on.  Much of the novel centers around the kind of research being done (evil), but too much also concerns how completely desired Pia is by the men in the novel.  As a reader, her character was so dull, so unlikeable, so non-personable, I found it hard to believe she could be the object of desire by a bazillionaire and another doctor.  Seriously?  Suspend reality much?  She lacked the depth of the desk on which I am now writing.

Her boss, Zach, runs this evil empire which is on the verge of potentially earth shattering research, but he is so enthralled with this robot woman that he risks everything to convince her of what a catch he would be as a man?

The dialogue is stilted and none of the characters speak in a voice which is either natural or convincing.

From one chapter where Pia is trying to trick Berman into access throughout his house:

Let’s turn it off” Pia said.  “Excuse me”.  “I want it off.  I don’t want to feel inhibited knowing a recorder is operating.”  A slight smile appeared on Berman’s face.  He loved it.  She had miraculously transformed herself into the woman of his dreams.

blah blah blah.  Ugh. 

Now, as to the ending.  I am almost 100% confident, Cook had vacation plans or some sort of his own medical crisis, and just turned in the chapters he had finished.  There is no conclusion.  The book just stops.  I visited other reviewers to get their take on this abrupt ending to hundreds of pages and most are in agreement that the author simply got tired of typing.  I understand the concept of building a character to be continued in the next novel, but I will just pretend all these characters died in some sort of natural disaster and will never be heard from again.  The end.  Thank goodness.

0/5 Stars