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Reviews of what you should be reading next.

Category: Word Slinger

Splintrod by D. Gordon Tyson

splintrod

A young Betsey Stratfork is enjoying her childhood when she is involved in a tragic auto accident that destroys her legs. Despite her handicap and the lack of compassion from the driver, she excels in school and earns her medical degree. She pursues a career in a new field of medicine known as bone manipulation. Now, as Dr. Stratfork, she develops groundbreaking devices and procedures that improve the lives of many patients. In the course of her life, living in constant pain, she is subjected to repeated instances of discrimination. Learning of a life-threatening event, she snaps. In her anger-fueled psychosis, she turns to the dark-side and uses her SplintRod invention to inflict horrific pain and suffering.

 

 

Thanks to Word Slinger Publicity for offering this book in exchange for a review!

SPLINTROD is a wildly uneven but gripping tale about a doctor who loses her mind and seeks revenge on those who have wronged her. I alternately felt sorry for, then despised Dr Wilfork for her actions. Towards the end of the story I decided that my dominant emotion was pity, as long as I didn’t think too hard about the victims.

The fact that this is the author’s first book is evident: the writing style is a bit rough around the edges, he spends just a tad too much time describing the many characters, and some of the transitions between scenes are awkward. Some of the characters are one dimensional, and even Dr Wilfork could have been fleshed out a bit more.

The storyline and action is edge-of-your-seat wonderful, however. Once you get past the unpolished writing style, the drama grabs you and keeps you reading, because you just don’t know what is going to happen next. Medical thrillers are the best, because you know you will encounter depraved people and intense procedures, plus lots of blood. The creation of the Splintrod device is devilish genius – and the perfect way for the good doctor to torture and maim the innocent. The author’s descriptions of how the machine is misused are cringeworthy and totally believable.

The plot brings up an interesting moral point – was the revenge proper? Were the victims selected correctly? Some may say no, that the actual perpetrators of pain upon Dr Wilfork should have been the ones feeling the pain. However, there is mental pain and physical pain; both kinds are visited upon the innocent and the guilty alike.

The author’s strength lies in his ability to manipulate the reader’s emotions. As I mentioned before, I would vacillate between disgust and vicarious pleasure as the victims were tortured. There was disgust because of the maiming and killing that occurred. However, the victims were also portrayed to be arrogant and self-centered, with some of their actions bearing that out. At times it became easy to despise them and all that they stood for. But strip all that away, and at the end they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

With the proper editing, SPLINTROD could be a five star book. The author has a great capacity for plot development; he just needs to smooth out the bumps in the road. I did enjoy this book, and I’d love to know what you think about it. You can pick up your copy [easyazon_link identifier=”B01KYGF1CG” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

Ruffian: The Story Of A Jockey by Beverly Harrison

ruffian

60 seconds out of the starting gate, Jockey Syd Paul is riding for her life. Blindsided, she’s attacked during a race by a fellow jockey and friend. Forced to fight for her life atop a fast and furious thousand pound horse galloping at top speed, Syd struggles, fighting in disbelief, while only inches away, the other jockey falls to his death. Shocked and battered and without a moment to think, she turns from the nightmare behind her toward the finish line just ahead, and wins the race.
Bloodied and beaten into a bruised lump of flesh, Syd finds herself dazed and standing in the winner’s circle, flashing back at what just happened. WTF, she thinks, watching the instant replay unfold like bad reality tv. From the video replay, there’s no question. Syd looks guilty as the gates burst open just like a hundred times before. Only this time, Syd battled another jockey to the death and then went on to win.
Bleeding and head swimming, the single question remains: Why did my friend attack me? She finds a shocking truth: Some unidentified person will go to any length to control the jockeys and the outcome of certain races. One jockey has died and others will follow. Syd is forced to accept help from police detective, Joe McQueen. He’s drop dead gorgeous with the tenacity of a pit bull and the sensibility of a good ol’ boy.
Unsure of placing her life and her future into the hands of a complete stranger, (McQueen), Syd sets out to find the answers and keep herself safe, knowing she’s only one golden ticket away from her dream of riding in the Kentucky Derby, but in the next race, she’ll be riding not only for her career, but also, for her life.

 

Thanks to Word Slinger for gifting me this book for review!

I found the plot of this book wonderfully refreshing. Not many stories are written with a racing background (unless you are a Dick Francis fan), much less with a female jockey in the main role. Syd Paul is a feisty girl, making her way among the misogynistic jockeys at the track. She is a talented rider, hoping to find a mount to get her into the Kentucky Derby.

When her good friend attacks her during a race, she is thrown into a race fixing scheme that threatens her very existence. Syd is a loner by nature and is mistrustful of most people, except for a handful of friends. Her best friend convinces her to go to the police, but they don’t seem to be much help. She gets attacked again, and doesn’t know why she can’t get anyone to believe that she is danger.

I enjoyed the book, despite the writing being a bit uneven. Perhaps it was the editing, but it pulled me out of the story when I would see odd words capitalized (Owner, Jockey) and the occasional typo here and there. I also wanted to shake the character of Syd a few times, when she persisted in going places alone and putting herself in danger. ( I suppose that was needed, otherwise there wouldn’t have been a story.)

The same thing that bugged me about her was also her strength: a female jockey who didn’t want to sit on the sidelines while the men took care of business was an excellent choice of main character. Competition is intense in racing, and Syd showed her mettle by holding her own against the guys. She refused to give in to emotion, always keeping her goal firmly in her sights. At times this was also a noticeable quirk – Syd seemed to vacillate at times between grief and being perfectly fine (after the death of someone close to her). I kept thinking that it was very strange for her to be so happy just a few minutes after having tears in her eyes and talking about how much she missed her friend. Personally, if that was me, I would have been home crying and being miserable, not out flirting and going to restaurants.

But that is a small criticism. I’m sure anything she did was to advance the plot, which was quite suspenseful. I wasn’t sure who the bad guys were, and all in all, the idea of race fixing was quite plausible. Many people believe horse racing is fixed in some way, but never think of the people that may be caught up in it without their consent.

The race descriptions and personalities (and names) of the horses left me in thrall – I love horses and felt as if I were behind the scenes at a large track. Syd’s skill as a jockey was also a plus; she always raced to win and never compromised who she was.

My verdict? A good story, well rounded characters, and some suspense. Definitely an enjoyable and unique read that horse racing fans (and mystery lovers) will enjoy. You can pick up your copy [easyazon_link identifier=”B01AB3A69U” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

The Wrong Treatment by Chris Malone

wrong tx

A fast paced medical thriller with a serial killer on the loose. Adam Hooker was delighted to be working with advanced technologies such as MRI to help doctors perform surgery and treat patients, but his world is overturned when his brilliant mentor Gary dies in a horrific accident. But it seems Gary may have had dark secrets and everything points to his involvement in a series of recent murders and attacks on women. Adam is determined to find the truth and clear Gary’s name, and is finally able to connect the dots between Gary’s death and the real killer. All this is set against a background of hi-tech medicine and political intrigue within a top-ranked research institution.

Thanks to Word Slinger for gifting me this book for review!

Once you get past the first 30 pages, and get used to the formatting of dialogue and occasionally awkward phrasing, this story grabs you and keeps you interested. The plot has a few tendrils: the horrific (majorly gory details) murder of a scientist via overactive radiotherapy machine; other members of the scientific community with secrets they wish to keep hidden; a grasping and pompous hospital Vice President with a licentious mind; and a man with a brain tumor.

THE WRONG TREATMENT takes place in the United States, but the writing is quite British, which may seem confusing to some readers. I did find it endearing that so many American things were being written about with a British slant, and I will say that the author is very familiar with his subjects. Neurosurgery is a complicated science but there was nothing in here that was overwhelming. The author takes pains to describe computer programs and certain treatments in plain language.

Each chapter takes place in a day, with the entire book encompassing 14 days of action. A scientist is murdered and his best friend and co worker tries to figure out who did it and why. As always, I loved that the criminal was not obvious in the beginning. I pegged different characters over the course of the book a few times but was always wrong, as the murderer is not made clear til the final pages.

A research lab must be written about in such a way that the details are correct and not too dull. Malone fulfills this beautifully! The science makes sense, the details are grasped easily, and nothing is too over the top. I can imagine Michael Crichton nodding his head at the finished product. I especially liked the boardroom intrigue and back stabbing as well – the machinations of science and politics are done quite well.

The main character, Adam Hooker, grows as a person over the course of the two weeks, becoming more confident in himself and his decision making ability. Dr Cummings, Chief of Neurosurgery, is a very sympathetic character with a brain damaged son and conflicting inner thoughts regarding that son.

Overall, the writing style is not as polished as I’ve seen, but the plot and character development is solid, the suspense builds properly, and things are brought to a close in a believable manner. I have a second book of Chris Malone‘s to review and I’m looking forward to it!

Want y our own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”1517595096″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

 

Unfortunate Event by Marc David Veldt

unfortunate

A man’s life can easily be shattered by a single unfortunate event.
After a patient dies following a routine operation, hospital administration needs a scapegoat. They find their victim in Dr. Jack Andrews, a brilliant anesthesiologist. Andrews’s actions had no bearing on the patient’s death, but he finds himself thrown to the legal wolves by his so-called colleagues as they scramble to protect themselves.

Facing a relentless, amoral prosecutor and allied with a malpractice insurance company acting in its own best interests, Andrews loses everything-his money and his standing in the medical community. His money-obsessed wife divorces him, taking with her their two children.

Jack’s opponents think they’ve won. They think they’re the most ruthless players in the game of life. But Jack’s about to introduce them to the game’s next level. He’s got nothing left to lose, and a mind trained to make life-or-death decisions. People start to die-people who wronged Jack Andrews.
A tense thriller, ” Unfortunate Event” explores the dark side of operating room culture, the cutthroat world of malpractice law, and the mind of one man as his world crumbles around him.

Word Slinger Publicity gave me a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

The one thing that drew me to this book was that the author is an anesthesiologist, and I was looking forward to accurate and copious medical detail.
I wasn’t disappointed! I was also pleasantly surprised by the quality of the writing and how thrilling the plot was. Jack Andrews is a very sympathetic character that undergoes a sweeping personality change as a result of his verbally abusive and emotionally absent wife, job stress, and accidental death of a patient that was not his fault.
The story line is set up well as we see a patient suddenly go downhill after a routine surgery. The medicine was good, but an unknown combination of events caused the patient to spiral downwards and eventually die. The details showing doctors scrambling to lay blame and divert attention away from themselves is chilling and unfortunate if truly accurate.
Andrews is a magnet for almost every cliché surrounding the medical profession: he’s married to a money grubbing woman who teaches their children to view their father as a giant wallet, his coworkers are a coterie of doctors that eschew their personal life to chase the almighty dollar, and his malpractice lawyer is a drunken has-been who only cares about getting the case settled quickly so he can go back to his bottle.
Author Marc David Veldt makes this situation sound plausible. Some of his most cringeworthy bits of dialogue are from the mouth of Kate, the doctor’s wife. In one chapter, she is lambasting her husband for having to miss work during his malpractice trial. She asks:
“How long will the trial take?”
“About 3 or 4 weeks.”
“You can’t be expected to miss that much work. We have no income if you aren’t working. You’ll just have to make the lawyers attend the trial. There’s no reason you have to be there all the time.”
“Gee, honey, I think it’s expected that I show up for my own trial.”
“It isn’t fair. Why should the children and I have to suffer because some guy had a poor result?”
“Dying is a very poor result.”
“You just aren’t tough enough, are you? I can’t believe I’m supposed to raise children with someone who isn’t strong and has all these problems.”

Every time Kate spoke it was pretty much along the same lines, and I hoped to read later on that he had injected her with some potassium chloride or something.

Eventually Dr Andrews gives in to let the machine chew him up and spit him out. He loses everything he cares about, and the only thing left for him is to seek justice….his own way. The brilliant, organized mind of an anesthesiologist turns to nefarious deeds, and this is where the story takes a darker turn. He plots the murder of everyone who has wronged him in a cool, calculated plot that did stretch credulity a bit, but for the most part it was easy to digest.  Even as he plots the demise of his enemies, he still remains a sympathetic character. I stayed up long past my bedtime to see what would happen to the good doctor!

Andrews’ character is well defined, whereas some of the others were not. There was an equal amount of dialogue and description to keep things constantly moving forward in a compelling way, and there was suspense as well towards the end of the book when the police started putting the pieces together.

UNFORTUNATE EVENT is a hidden gem of a book and easily readable, no medical background needed. The events put forth in the book really made me think about the world of malpractice law and how vulnerable doctors may be in this litigious society. The author writes in such a way as to exploit the desire for money, and this causes the reader to realize the pressure on doctors and how this affects each decision they make.

I’d love to see more of Veldt’s work and I hope he continues to write. Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”1502913402″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

 

 

 

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