NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf

4.0 out of 5 stars -- "You have to look for the little mercies, the small kindnesses and good that come from the terrible."

Social worker, wife, and busy mother of 3, Ellen Moore makes a dreadful, almost deadlly mistake one morning. Though she's usually the one rescuing children or removing them from abusive homes, this time she's on the defensive as she accidentally left her infant daughter inside a van on a hot summer morning in Iowa. The full ramifications of this act become a nightmare for the entire family. 

Jenny Briard is 10 years old. She and her alcoholic father are leaving town for Dubuque when he is arrested before he can get on the bus where she's saving him a seat. Jenny is so shaken that she stays on board and ends up in Cedar City, alone, but determined to find the mother who abandoned her - she has the address of her grandmother on a birthday card in her backpack. 

The story is told in the alternating points of view of Ellen and Jenny as their worlds collide. While Ellen fights the legal battles and her husband and children are in turmoil, her mother takes runaway Jenny into her home. 

A beautiful tale of healing and redemption, family bonds and strong love, it makes one grateful for any little mercy. Readers and book groups will find much to discuss while examining their own lives and actions. I recommend it. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin for the e-book ARC to review.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

4.0 out of 5 stars -- Creepy and suspenseful thriller told in alternating points of view and flipping back and forth in time.

Mia Dennett, daughter of a prominent local judge, meets the man at a bar and agrees to go home with him when her boyfriend stands her up. Little does she know that Colin Thatcher has been watching and following her for days as he has been hired to kidnap her. In the course of the evening, everything changes for the pair as Colin decides not to deliver Mia for the ransom and takes her to a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota. Though Mia knows him as Owen, it's clear that he is holding her prisoner in this frigid and isolated place. Inside the cabin, though, something is happening between the would-be kidnapper and Mia.

Meanwhile, her mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman are trying to find the missing Mia by tracking down the few clues they have. As days go by with no word, Eve fears the worst. They get a tip and Mia is returned to the family home but she doesn't remember anything of her ordeal, and seems emotionally fragile and physically exhausted. What happened to her? What is the extent of the damage done by this abduction and how has she suffered the isolation and trauma of being held prisoner by this man. Who is Colin Thatcher?

The story is not straight forward and the jumps between points of view and time period alternate and are a bit disorienting until the reader figures out who is speaking and if this is a "before" a "during" or an "after" time.

It kept me glued to the pages and, though the ending was abrupt and didn't seem to offer a conclusion, I enjoyed it very much.

Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin for the e-book ARC to review.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli

3.5 out of 5 stars -- the beauty of this book is not in the tale of the fictional young man, Luca Vianello, but in the detail about 16th century Venice and the life of tradesmen and artisans in the early Renaissance. I loved reading about the city and the processes involved in the construction of the gondolas - a true labor of love blended with many other skills. The canals come alive with descriptions of the gondoliers and I could all but see, hear, taste, smell and smell the glory of the city during that time and place in history.

Luca Vianello was set to become a gondola maker as heir to the family business, but he longs to be freed from this legacy and to find out what it is that he is really meant to do -- surely there is something else out there. After a fateful fire and an argument with his father, Luca is homeless on the waterways of Venice and eventually finds employment as a private boatman for a famous artist. He discovers an old gondola in storage and begins to work on it, ultimately finding redemption and purpose. A series of events once again causes him to lose everything that is valuable, until he gets a last minute reprieve from an unexpected source, bringing him full circle. Along the way, there's a girl. As I said, the weakest part of the story was Luca as it seems to me that the real beauty of this novel is the way that the people of Venice come to life in the prose and minutiae. The author did a fantastic job of putting the reader beside the characters to allow us to experience the wonder that was Venice.

I read this novel almost immediately after reading The Venetian Bargain by Marina Fiorato so the Gondola Maker was a great followup as the time period comes directly after the Black Death had again decimated the city.

I'd recommend it to anyone interested in the fine arts as well as in this period of Venetian history. Thank you to NetGalley and Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Members' Titles for the e-book ARC to review.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Venetian Bargain by Marina Fiorato

4.0 out of 5 stars -- Intrigue, danger, romance and THE PLAGUE...

A very entertaining historical fiction novel set in 1570s Constantinople and Venice that brought out the researcher in me! There's nothing I love as much as a book that makes me want to investigate details of a time and place and this one definitely does that!

The synopsis, perfectly described in the product details, tells the story of a girl from the East meeting a boy from the West. They are different in every way -- culture, religion, medical training, social standing -- but when forced to work together to stop Venice's devatasting Black Death, they find friendship and respect that grows into forbidden love.

The best part of the narrative involves the details of each city and the vivid descriptions made me feel able to see all the beautiful buildings and scenery. I could almost smell the air, taste the food, and feel the veil and the mask worn to provide protection from the miasma that surrounded the people. I love a book with any type of medical history and that both Feyra and Annibale were trained doctors during this epidemic made me reread pages again and again to compare what is known now to what was believed in the 1570s. I can't get enough of that!

The characters a reader expects and loves were all there -- in their roles of good and evil, but there is a unique perspective here with the voice of Feyra, an Ottoman in a strange world that she fears even though she is half-Venetian. I enjoyed exploring Constantinople, Venice, and the island of Lazzaretto Novo. The additional details about the building of a church, commissioned by the Doge to make a plea to heaven to stop The Plague, were fascinating as was the inclusion of Andrea Palladio as the architect who imagined the fantastic Redentore that still has millions of visitors to this day. Everything about this book made me want to travel to these cities and see them for myself.

The only weak spots for me were the romance and the sort of unbelievable ending of this otherwise very compelling tale, but I pushed through and enjoyed it very much nevertheless. I'd highly recommend this to fans of this era and setting and my next read happens to be a book set just a few years later in Venice and is about gondola builders. Enjoy!

Please send recommendations of any other historical fiction novels set in this time period in Venice or Ottoman Empire.

Amazon Vine ARC. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Pearl that Broke its Shell by Nadia Hashimi

5.0 out of 5 stars "The human harder than a rock and more delicate than a flower petal."
Narrated in alternating points of view and shifting back and forth in time, this is a beautiful novel about the daughters of Afghanistan. Though subjected to treatment that utterly made me cringe in horror, two women manage to overcome incredible obstacles to survive. Both Rahima and her great-great grandmother Shekiba spend a few years as bacha posh -- girls who dress as boys in a custom that allows them some freedom not allowed to females to better serve the needs of their family when there are no sons. In that guise, they realize that their religion and social rules are meant to keep women as slaves to the males who steal or buy them as wives. Denied the education that they covet, each woman must find a way out of the hell she lives in.

Though separated by over a century in years, Rahima and Shekiba are abused by the men and women they live with as each experiences her own personal subjugation under the harsh rule of husband and extended family. Held in their homes without contact with the outside world, they only have value when they give birth to sons. Considered second class in all ways, women are kept ignorant so that they can be controlled. How each deals with her situation is often heartbreaking but ultimately heroic.

Although I could hardly bear to put this book down, at times I had to step away, take a deep breath, count my blessings, and be thankful that I live where I do in this time. I don't think I would have lasted more than a day or two had I faced the lives of Rahima or Shekiba. I will think about this powerful theme and the plight of any woman forced to live as a possession to her family or a man. I think this is a book that begs discussion by those of us who enjoy the freedoms we have in a world where other women do not have the same privilege and luxury to be all that they can be only because of being female.

Highly recommended.
Amazon Vine ARC

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

City of Jasmine by Deanna Raybourn

3.0 out of 5 stars - Thoroughly predictable romantic historical fiction featuring an adventurous, plucky female and the intrepid, very masculine, love interest.

This entertaining novel is about famed aviatrix, Evangeline Starke, who is flying her plane on a sponsored trip to the seven ancient seas with her eccentric Aunt Dove when she is contacted in a message from what seems to be her late drowned husband, Gabriel.

Misunderstandings, adventure, danger, double-cross, hidden treasure, and several treks in the vast desert outside of Damascus make this a fast and enjoyable read. The romance between Evie and Gabriel was quite lame, but I usually ignore that in most historical fiction as I am reading this book set in 1920s Damascus (Syria)for the details of that particular place and time. Deanna Raybourn writes so well that the reader can almost imagine herself there -- smelling, seeing, tasting, feeling and hearing all the sights and sounds of the marketplace, the baths, the dessert, or the inside of a Bedouin tent.

Recommended for the history lessons! I also read Raybourn's [[ASIN:0778314391 A Spear of Summer Grass]] and enjoyed that setting in Kenya. The author's facts seem authentic and provide a very important background for the stories she tells.

Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin for the e-book ARC to review.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Nightingale Nurses by Donna Douglas

4.0 out of 5 stars The third book in this engaging series is another winner!

As Millie, Dora, and Helen enter their final year of training at The Nightingale Hospital in London's east end in the mid 1930s, they will be facing critical decisions about their future.

Will Helen ever be able to escape the demands of her domineering mother to make her own choices? Will Dora manage to overcome her girlhood trauma and do the right thing in the face of heartbreak? Can Millie get her act together and figure out where her heart lies in both love and career? In the midst of all this personal turmoil, the training goes on with long busy shifts at the hospital, late night studies, and difficult ward sisters.

Meanwhile, there is menace in the streets as the blackshirts embrace fascism,threaten the Jews in the East End and the war in Europe comes closer to their doorsteps. A very challenging 6 months is ahead - and loyalties and friendships will be tested.

The reader can't but help falling in love with these characters. Though there is a lot of focus on love, the details of the hospital and the nurses training are very absorbing and interesting as well! I was laughing to myself as I sort of felt their stress as the nurses approached State Registered Nurse exams! I just found out there is to be a 4th book in this series and I can't wait to read it. Highly recommended to fans of romantic historical fiction with an interest in nursing or prewar London.

The series -- and yes, it's best to read them in order.

The Nightingale Girls (Nightingales)
The Nightingale Sisters (Nightingales)
The Nightingale Nurses (Nightingales)
Nightingales on Call

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House UK - North America for the e-book copy to review.

The Nightingale Sisters by Donna Douglas

4.0 out of 5 stars Nurses Training -- 1930s style

I am really enjoying this romantic historical fiction set in London during the mid 1930s. In this second book of the Nightingale series, we continue to follow Dora, Millie and Helen as they begin another year of nurses training in Bethnal Green. A new character is introduced, the mysterious and secretive Violet Tanner, who is hired on as Night Sister for the Nightingale Hospital.

The young nurses are still learning new procedures as they try to improve their skills and abilities under the watchful, and often very critical, eyes of the ward sisters. I find the details of this training to be quite interesting as I'm a nurse myself and experienced a far different sort of educational process! Their days are quite long and hard, and often there's not much to be done for the patients as medical science is not very advanced at this time and place.

As in the last book, the three trainees have difficulty with their families and love lives, trying to balance their own ambition with the expected behavior of females at the time.

I can't wait to start the next -- The Nightingale Nurses -- as the three begin their final year of training!

In order:
The Nightingale Girls (Nightingales)
The Nightingale Sisters (Nightingales)
The Nightingale Nurses (Nightingales)
Nightingales on Call

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bittersweet by Colleen McCullough

3.0 out of 5 stars Lives that are not so sweet..., May 16, 2014

This is a romance novel set in Australia during the Depression era. It features two sets of twins - 4 young women coming of age during an era when higher education and the idea of a meaningful career were not the norm. Taking advantage of a unique opportunity, they matriculate to train as nurses at Corunda Base Hospital. Though the sisters are very close, they are all quite different as far as their goals and life ambitions. Inevitably, each experiences life's requisite ups and downs as political and economic turmoil affect the dreams held dear.

This could have been a powerful testimony to the advancement of women's liberation during that time and place in history, but unfortunately the story told here was more soap opera than sweeping epic. I found the characters to be completely unlikeable, in fact, they were narcissistic and so predictable that I found myself immensely annoyed. Much of the narrative focused on each sister's problems with love -- not because they were forced to choose between it and achieving their life-long ambitions -- but because they dithered about not having any personal insight. Good decisions seemed quite outside of their capability despite the reader being assured they were all well-educated. Secondary characters got short shrift and were very one-dimensional stereotypes. The long discourses on the politics of the time mostly moved me to boredom. The reader, reminded so often of how beautiful these girls were and how much money they had or didn't have, wonders if they would have amounted to anything had they been plain and poor. How nice that they all find men willing to part with the pounds to finance them. Edda, Grace, Tufts, and Kitty. These daughters of Australia find life bittersweet.

Recommended to readers who enjoy historical fiction with a large portion of romance. Don't expect it to be THE THORN BIRDS.

Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the e-book ARC to review.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

3.5 of 5 stars - "You grow up feeling the weight of blood, of family. There's no forsaking kin."

The Dane family has lived in Henbane, in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, for generations. In this small town, a "dark spot on the map" of the USA as seen from space, they are old timers in a place where blood ties mean everything.

The novel opens with the discovery of a missing girl's dismembered body in a tree by the river. Cheri, with a low IQ, had looked up to Lucy and they had played together often enough as children. Though Cheri had been gone for over a year before she was found, Lucy had never gotten over it because her own mother, Lila, had also disappeared from the town. Haunted by the mystery surrounding these two women, Lucy wonders whether or not the two cases could be related. What happened to her mother and who did that to Cheri? Lucy, who is being raised in his parents' house by her father, Carl, goes to work for her Uncle Crete at the shop and restaurant owned and run by the Dane family for as long as anyone can remember. She suspects that there is something evil in the town, and is concerned that her beloved Uncle Crete may be involved. It's time to expose the secrets even if it means violating the kinfolk bond. For who really is "family"?

This was a quick read with shifting points of view and flips back and forth in time. Lila's story is revealed and Lucy gets the answers she needs. The atmosphere of the setting, both foreboding and mysterious, increases the tension though the reader never gets any true sense of danger even as Lucy does some incredibly stupid things. The conclusion seems a bit anticlimactic and Lucy's somewhat blase acceptance of the revelations seems a little unbelievable, but stays with the theme of blood being thicker than water.

This would be a great read during the heat of summer, sipping sweet tea, watching the lake or river go by from a porch swing and perhaps hearing the chorus of night sounds coming from a nearby wood.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Random House for the e-book ARC to review.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican

"Catholic school - as vicious as Roman Rule." (Death Cab for Cutie)

I really liked this book though it was very disturbing and dark. As a teacher, librarian and nurse at a Catholic high school, I have heard that phrase a million times since the song with those lyrics came out ~2005. There seems to be no end to the inventive ways that students find to torment each other. Though this book was set in the 1990s, many of the behaviors and problems described exist in school settings today. Students in high school are faced with academic pressure, shifting loyalties, betrayal, bullying, and other issues that so make these NOT the best days of their lives. The students in BRUTAL YOUTH come from different backgrounds and home situations that make their ability to succeed more difficult as kids compete with each other to stand out and be different while still wanting to belong to at least one group or clique. The blind eye or ignorance of what was really happening at St. Michael the Archangel was sort of unbelievable but definitely adults don't always get the real picture because students don't often confide the complete truth. A critical conversation or intervention by an observant teacher, mentor, coach or staff might have helped immensely -- I thought most of those employees should have been fired!

I originally thought this was a YA novel but I can see that it is not as I don't feel that most high school students would read between the lines for the insight that is there in the stories of the teens at SMTA school. The lack of resolution and the missing happy endings is difficult to accept because the reader, given the benefit of knowing the real inner workings of each character's mind, has definite thoughts and feelings as to how things should end. Consequences. Punishment? The level of abuse meted out to students under the watchful eyes of equally disturbed adults was horrific. I will be thinking about this book for a long time and I hope it keeps me mindful of the myriad ways in which I personally can be empathetic and helpful to the kids I interact with each day. Observant and open. Watchful and ready to step in to prevent the bullying or the "jokes" made at another's expense. Are students more vulnerable now given the impact of social media? I think everyone is potentially a target and that learning to handle it is one of the main learning experiences of the high school years, but no student should be left unprotected by the adults given the charge to keep them safe from mental and physical harm. The adults described in the book were horrible stereotypes of all the myths about Catholic school, but demonstrate how toxic an environment can be if allowed to go unchecked. I don't care what people say, any kind of "hazing" by upper classmen is inappropriate in a school community. Adults can and should model behavior that encourages students to be kind to one another and they should be vigilant to weed out and help break the cycle of "do unto others" when that means being cruel.

I'm sure I will be thinking about this novel for a long time and would love to discuss it with others. It was disturbing but pertinent. I'd recommend it.

4.5 stars Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the e-book copy to review.  May 11, 2014

The Harem Midwife by Roberta Rich

3.0 out of 5 stars - Sequel to The Midwife of Venice recreates Constantinople circa 1578 when Sultan Murat III is God of the Ottoman Empire and his mother, Valide, schemes to ensure that he sires many children to continue the line of ascension to the throne.

Hannah and Isaac Levi have left Venice with their adopted son, Matteo, and set up their silk business in the city of Constantinople. Because of Hannah's reputation as a midwife, she is commanded to the palace to examine a new slave girl. This peasant Jew, Leah, has attracted the attention of the Sultan and her virginity must be assured before any "couching" can take place. The desperate young girl, abducted from her village, is not intact. Hannah decides to intervene and save Leah from prostitution and death.

In another side plot, Isaac's brother has died and a woman who claims to be Leon's widow appears at their door asking for her dowry to be returned. Because of their move and the fact that silk is not selling well, the Levis do not have the 100 ducats she is owed. Hannah and Levi are faced with Jewish law forcing them to make a huge change in their marriage to satisfy their debt.

Although the conclusions to these separate narrative lines is predictable, and Hannah's involvement a bit far-fetched, the real enjoyment of this book comes from the details about harem life and the descriptions of the palace and the city. The reader will delight in the descriptive prose and almost see, touch, smell, taste, and hear what the center of the world in Constantinople must have been like in that day and age.

I enjoyed this very fast read and quick conclusion complete with the historical information that corrects the liberties taken with fiction. I think it would be best if readers had finished the first book in the series prior to this one. I'd read another about Hannah and Isaac Levi.

Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books for the e-book ARC to review.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Nightingale Nurses by Donna Douglas

3.0 out of 5 stars -- predictable romantic fiction set in London in the 1930s as three young women arrive at the Nightingale Hospital in London to train as nurses. Coming from completely different backgrounds, Dora, Helen, and Millie have various reasons for wanting to study at the famed hospital. Can they endure the grueling schedule and unending work in order to further their personal goals and dreams?

I found the details about the actual nurses training the most interesting aspect of all. Reminded me that, in those days, there was more emphasis on bathing and cleaning than there was on science. The nurses did few actual procedures and took care of basic needs such as preparing and serving meals. I also wasn't surprised at the level of subservience expected from them by head sisters and the medical staff! Since I'm a nurse myself, I always find these novels to be pertinent reminders of how far the profession has come in skills and knowledge while still retaining the personal care expertise to provide hygiene and comfort to the hospitalized sick and injured.

I plan to read the other two in the trilogy:
#2 The Nightingale Sisters
#3 The Nightingale Nurses

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House UK - North America for the e-book ARC to review.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

3.5 out of 5 stars - I liked this novel despite the fact that I totally detested nearly all of the characters and the underlying story. I definitely would not go on vacation with these folks!

Why did I like it? Because of the author's writing style and the stream of consciousness narration by the mostly despicable protagonist -- even though he is definitely no kind of hero!

Marc is a family doctor, and despite his hugely inflated sense of himself, he's not the kind of physician that you would want to see. He is judgmental and seems to despise his job and most of the patients who come to him with their ailments and complaints. Dismissing them with paternalistic platitudes and a standard prescription for this or that medication, he is almost narcissistic in the role he plays as the gatekeeper to a specialist or a higher standard of care. He is mechanical and without much empathy and he accepts their thanks and social invitations with poor grace. Many of his patients are in the "art" world, and one in particular, Ralph Meier, is a famous stage actor whom Marc eventually befriends well enough to get an invitation for their families to meet up at the Meier's summer house. The story of what happens on that vacation leads to far-reaching consequences for them all, and for one, it proves life threatening.

The story has a mystery, but more than that, it begs the questions and discussion about family, fidelity, morals, parenthood, and "bad" character. I found it to be a fast and enjoyable read, an interesting point of view, and certainly a train wreck of political incorrectness at times because of the narrator. Just be glad this is not your family doctor! 

I have not read his other book, THE DINNER, but I think I need to do that.

Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for the e-book ARC to review.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Frankenstorm by Ray Garton

3.0 out of 5 stars -- originally released as a serial novel, this full length mix of horror, murder and mayhem is a fast-paced and entertaining tale of one terrible night in Eureka, California. Hurricane Quentin is about to make landfall and wreak havoc on the coastal town, but other factors combine to create a nightmare of epic proportions.

In an old re-purposed mental hospital, scientists have created a virus that spreads on contact. The test subjects are homeless people that had disappeared from the streets. Now they're housed in the sub-basement of the huge structure, kept locked separately in cages because the infected people are afflicted with a killing rage.

A man who is dedicated to helping the homeless has command of a militia and a plan to rescue the captives -- but he doesn't know about the virus.

In yet another narrative line, a sheriff's deputy has gone rogue and is using the storm to take advantage of his own murderous impulses and has taken a local man and his son hostage on his rampage.

Meanwhile, a radio personality who wants to uncover a conspiracy is going to get the story of his life.

All the plot lines converge in a spectacular flurry of blood and gore as the storm rages through the town. Who will live? And even more of a concern, will the virus that is spread on contact escape the confines of the hospital?

This was a fun thriller but could have gone further as it ended without completely finishing the story -- I wonder if that means a sequel? Enjoy the ride!

Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for the e-book ARC to review.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Girl in 6E by A.R. Torre

2.0 out of 5 stars -- I am clearly not the intended audience for this novel as I have read many rave reviews on other social media and blog sites and I don't think we all must have read the same book. 

I felt this attempt at a "Dexter" copycat was less than thrilling and resulted in a promising premise poorly executed. Not recommending to my friends and definitely not purchasing for library. Not my kind of book.

I was intrigued at the idea of a young woman locking herself into her apartment and living a reclusive life because of her murderous impulses. She was not guarding herself from harm, she was protecting everyone outside the door from being killed by HER.

The character's motivations and background are revealed through the narrative as she describes her life -- mainly as a web cam persona who engages with anyone who wants a private session for a price. There's no sexual fantasy she won't indulge EXCEPT that there is no physical contact ever with another being.

Then, something changes and she has an opportunity she can't resist -- to leave the confines of apartment 6E. What mission compels her out of her safe haven? And can the urges of the Demon within be denied or will she act out everything she has imagined?

Disappointed and wishing I'd read something else instead. If you're looking for a good suspense thriller, erotica, sick psycho chiller, you may want to choose something else. The author is a woman.

Review copy (e-book) provided by NetGalley and Redhook Books.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Resistant by Michael Palmer

3.0 out of 5 stars "It is not our nature to suffer, and most of those who are offered government handouts in place of effort will take them."

My reaction to this third book in the Dr. Lou Welcome series probably was a bit affected by the fact that I had just finished watching Part I and Part II of ATLAS SHRUGGED (author: Ayn Rand) on Netflix. Both have a theme centering on political philosophy: the 100 Neighbors organization in RESISTANT want the government to end entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare and they intend to do this by holding them hostage to a lab-created organism that is resistant to any antibiotic treatment. Unfortunately, this "doomsday germ" has mutated and is now out of control, is spreading rapidly, and their scientists are unable to find a treatment. The "good guys" at the CDC haven't been able to develop an effective agent either.

Dr. Lou Welcome (recovering alcoholic and drug abuser) gets involved with the desperate search to stop the 100 Neighbors and find a cure when his best friend and mentor, Cap Duncan, breaks his leg while trail running. After a heroic mountainside save by Dr. Lou, Cap acquires the infection with the bacteria while in the hospital. The race is on to find some sort of treatment before Cap loses his leg and his life to the deadly bug.

The action in this medical thriller involves a large measure of suspension of disbelief that a middle-aged doctor who is board certified in Internal Medicine and ER - could possibly have the physical stamina and training to do all the things that he does in this novel -- in short, readers are to believe he can outsmart evil rogue FBI agents and physically outlast the homegrown terrorists in several amazing escape from death scenes. I don't think I'm telling any spoilers when I say that, despite the fact that Dr. Lou is no James Bond, he manages to outmaneuver and baffle the evil organization and save the day. Coincidences notwithstanding, he's just too clever for the 100 Neighbors and their cohort.

I've not read the first two books in this series, and since the author's unfortunate and untimely death, it's not likely that there will be a #4. As a standalone it works well enough to give fans of the suspense action novel a taste of the medical-related thrills they're looking for. Would make a great beach read!

3.5 stars - a fast, entertaining 3rd book in the series:
Oath of Office
Political Suicide
Amazon Vine ARC paperback.