3 stars out of 5
If a mystery/thriller has a medical or legal focus, it'll get my attention. If it's part of a series, even better; I love to have something on the back burner to turn to when my supply of favorite-author books starts to dwindle. I had high hopes for this book about the trials and tribulations of Dr. Cathy Sewell, who returns to her home town to set up her own practice. It's the first of three books in the "Prescription for Trouble" series by the author, a retired physician.
What I didn't realize is that the book might be more accurately listed under Christian fiction. Certainly I should have known; it's published by Abington Press, an imprint of The United Methodist Publishing House. But even though that's not my style (not even close, in fact), I must say I wasn't overwhelmed with the "I hate God for allowing my parents to die" followed by a lecture on why that's not true kind of thing. Only in a couple of places did talk of converting to true believer status become intrusive, and I was able to speed-read my way through those and get on with the story.
Cathy, it seems, returned home after ending a bad relationship - still grieving at the untimely loss of her parents in an accident just as she finished medical school. But sometimes it just doesn't pay to go home again; early on, it appears someone wants her to turn tail and get outta Dodge. Or maybe it's several someones; she has trouble getting a loan to set up her practice, trouble getting privileges at the local hospital, trouble driving down the road without being attacked by a mysterious black SUV and trouble when patients she treats end up in worse condition than when they came to see her. Given all that plus her past life experiences, she's lost the ability to trust - not even a local (and hunky) lawyer who promises to take care of her - and certainly not her own judgment.
All things considered, it really wasn't a bad story. I'll emphasize that the religious slant isn't the reason for my mid-point rating, nor is the technical quality of writing. In fact, it was nice to read a book that doesn't have grammar, punctuation and spelling errors splattered throughout every other chapter. Rather, it's because the overall plot is a little simplistic, and some of the details - which I can't mention without issuing a spoiler alert - just didn't have real-life plausibility. What happens to Cathy borders on overkill, so to speak; you think you're having a bad day? After reading only a few chapters that detail what she's going through, your life will seem like a walk in the park.
Still, at just 288 pages, it's a quick, easy read - ideal for my "fill-in" series requirement. And while it's far from the best book I ever read, it was good enough that I'm not calling in the crash cart for this series; in fact, I'm likely to try the next two, Medical Error and Diagnosis Death. I'll keep you posted!
Code Blue by Richard L. Mabry, M.D. (Abingdon Press, April 2010); 288 pp.)