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Tuesday, September 9, 2014


4 stars out of 5

As a huge fan of medical mysteries, I jumped at the chance to read this free with my Kindle Unlimited trial subscription. And when I learned it takes place in the Finger Lakes region of New York -- one of my favorite places to visit -- I was even more excited.

I'm pretty sure, though, that neither the town of New Canterbury nor Stanwick Lake are real - there are 11 Finger Lakes, and Stanwick isn't among them (our usual stopping place is somewhere along Seneca Lake in the Watkins Glen area, where, to our great delight, there must be at least 30 wineries within a 10-mile radius). But it's the thought that counts - and this story is set mostly at the New Canterbury University Hospital, where Dr. Jack Forester is director of the emergency department and trying to bring it into the 20th century in terms of services and equipment.

The prologue, which I understand has been rewritten since the first edition was published (this is the second), was intriguing; but after I'd read the first couple of chapters, I was a little concerned; the writing seemed a bit simplistic. Oh well, I said, I'll keep going and see how it goes. And I'm happy to say it turned much better and stayed that way right to the end (which didn't take long since it's just 302 pages).

Early on, it's clear there's a leadership battle going on; the new dean, Bryson Witmer, is a dude with an ego the size of Texas who won't tolerate a no from anyone, runs roughshod over the medical staff and takes no prisoners. Needless to say, that doesn't please Forester; and things go from bad to worse when his mentor (the former dean) is the victim of an apparent murder attempt that follows close on the heels of the deaths of two other key hospital professionals. All three, it seems, were not fond of Witmer and his practices, and their disposal conveniently clears his path to even greater power.

Enter the beautiful Zellie Andersen, an investigative reporter who has come to town do an in-depth story on the hospital. But as her interviews pick up steam, it's clear she's getting very different perspectives from Witmer and Forester. So who's telling the truth? The answer comes amid conspiracy and yes, more murders.

There were a few glitches along the way -- a handful of grammatical errors and what was described as a half-mile walk to a hotel that turned out to take considerably longer by car, for instance -- and the ending (where the action really picks up), leaned a bit toward the "you've got to be kidding" side. That said, I enjoyed the book and am looking forward to the sequel. At the end of this one, the author says it will be titled "Bedside," but as of this writing I'm still looking. Hope it turns up soon!

Final Mercy by Frank L. Edwards (Pascal Editions, 2nd edition, February 2013); 302 pp.

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