Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Trauma by Michael Palmer (and Dan Palmer, son)
There is no genre I read as critically as I do the medical thriller. Details must be scientifically accurate and perfect, plots must be plausible, and the protagonist absolutely must be genuine and believable. This novel focuses on Carrie Bryant, MD, a neurosurgery resident who resigns her program after making a spectacular error in the OR while assisting during a procedure -- a type of mistake that I found hard to imagine would even be possible in this day and age. But, premise tentatively accepted, I read on to see where this female surgeon would go next.
Carrie goes home to her parents and brother to lick her wounds. She finds things there a bit unsettling as her brother, Adam, is a vet who suffers from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). In an incredible stroke of luck, she gets a non-credentialed position at the nearby VA Hospital -- performing an experimental surgical procedure that involves deep brain stimulation for those with neurological disorders such as Parkinson's Disease -- AND now being tested on men with severe PTSD. Carrie is pleased with her skill on the first operation -- until the vet develops a rare post-op complication -- and then disappears! What? When a second patient also vanishes soon after the same operation, Carrie becomes determined to find out what is going on with these vets and who is behind the shocking conspiracy.
From that point on, the story becomes that particular tale of perils and daring escapades as Carrie and journalist, David (love interest), begin their surveillance and pursuit of those responsible for subverting a hopeful surgical treatment of PTSD into a scam for money and fame.
Although completely predictable with enough thrills and deaths to make it typical suspense fare, the underlying theme of the heartbreak and ruined lives caused by PTSD is still poignant and worthy. I do hope this was a standalone and not the beginning of a series featuring this female surgeon. I'd probably read another by this author (the son of deceased Michael Palmer) as I can't resist a medical thriller even if it doesn't quite live up to my expectations.
I'll save my annoyance over inaccuracies for the publisher. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the e-book ARC to review.