medical

Book Review: Prayer for the Dead by James Oswald

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Why This Book 
About 6 months ago, I won a Goodreads giveaway from the publisher, Crooked Lane. They accidentally shipped this book instead of the one I had won. Rather than pull it back, they let me keep the book, but I hadn’t gotten to read it. On my quest to close out all ARCs, giveaways and books on my shelves before I download or buy anything new, Prayer for the Dead, the fifth book in the Inspector McLean thriller and mystery series, published in 2015, and written by James Oswald, was the oldest in my queue, as I work why way through the TBR I actually have copies of. I rarely read in the middle of a book series, but with 4 books prior to this one, it was too much to go back to the beginning, so I’ll start here…

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Plot, Characters & Setting 
Set in current times in Edinburgh, UK, Inspector Tony McLean battles politics within his local police precinct and journalists with whom he has a very unsteady relationship. He’s also protecting a few local neighbors who are being vandalized and trying to re-build his former tenement after some accident that occurred in the previous novels. One of the journalists approaches McLean to ask for help with a missing colleague. Readers already know the colleague was sadistically killed in the opening chapter by someone with pseudo-religious or Masonic beliefs. A few bodies build up, and the cases all begin to collide. McLean learns he may actually be connected with the killer from many years earlier, and sets off to stop the serial murders with very little information. Includes some graphic violence, medical lingo, and police procedural language. No romance or side-stories, other than what he’s doing with his old tenement. A few minor things that might be good to know from prior books, but it can be read stand-alone.

Approach & Style 
I read the 340-page hardcover over 2 days in about 5 hours. Through ~75 chapters, the novel includes both 1st person and 3rd person POV. The killer appears in several chapters, disguised and talking to readers in 1st person POV, but the rest is mostly from McLean’s 3rd person POV. Perspective follows both around as crimes are committed and investigated.

Given it’s a police procedural, about some very religious and historical beliefs, and set partially in a medical environment, it’s not a run-of-the-mill thriller — there are many levels of technical details to weed through, particularly when it comes to UK police departments. I had no idea which type of investigator was more senior than the others, and they often refer to each other as Sir or Ma’am, so I was a tad lost. Not enough to stop me from reading, but enough that I wouldn’t say it was totally easy to adapt to for an American. Put a little chart in the back, please!

Strengths 
It’s complex, full of mystery and has lots of page-turning moments. There are enough characters to keep you guessing. The interweaving POV and perspective is handled adeptly. I liked the story and the way in which the murders occurred and how the investigations took place. Very detailed-oriented, and this makes me a happy reader! I also like the author’s writing style and feel connected to the development of the chapters and overall way things were described.

Concerns 
For one, the ending was way too quick. You don’t discover who the killer is or what his/her connection is to McLean until the last 15 pages. If that were the only concern, I’d probably have given this 4-stars; however, it was confusing and didn’t wrap up all the plot lines. I still don’t truly understand who was murdered years ago, whether the killer came back from the dead, or why one of the victims even died. Or even how the religious components truly fit in with all the other characters. I unfortunately must say this did not get fleshed out as well as it needed to be. Even if it’s a mystery thriller series, and more will be revealed later, as a whole book, it lacked a cohesive story that clearly set out the who/what/when/where/why of the crime.

Final Thoughts 
If this were the first book in the series, I’d have definitely passed on any future reads. Knowing it’s made it’s way to 5 books, through a traditional publisher, I’m certain I must be missing something, or that perhaps the earlier books were better. I probably won’t pick up another one, given my long TBR list, but I’d be curious to hear from anyone who has read the author before… what did I miss?

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
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Review: Black Notice

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Black Notice Book Review
3.5 of 5 stars (rounded up due to the topic in the book) for Black Notice, the 10th book in the “Kay Scarpetta” thriller and suspense series, written in 1999 by Patricia Cornwell. For me, this was a transitional book in the series, not so much from good to bad, but in the terms of who Kay Scarpetta is and what happens with the people in her life. If you are still reading the series, or think you will, don’t read the next few lines… then skip ahead to the next paragraph where it will be spoiler free. *** SPOILER *** Kay has lost Benton… and she needs to re-evaluate her life. Knowing what happens later in the books, and thinking about what we learn in this one and the previous one, I really questioned what Cornwell was doing in the series… and if it was just too many directional changes *** SPOILER END ***

So… the best part about this book is that there is the possibility of a werewolf. No… Cornwell didn’t delve into fantasy, but there is a disease that could make someone look like a werewolf and that’s where we go in this installment. Rather than cover the actual details of the story… think about the amount of effort and work Cornwell had to put into this book in order to write this story. It’s highly focused on extreme medical conditions, takes you across the continent, involves shipping procedures, politics, FBI investigations. This is not a normal everyday writer’s story… Cornwell may have a few downs in some of her books, but you can never question her ability to write a good story and to put the effort into surprising her fans. She excels in this area, and this book is one of those reasons for me. You don’t want to stop turning the pages and will end up reading it in one rather long sitting, just to understand what this werewolf thing is all about!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: Bitter Medicine

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Bitter Medicine Book Review
4 of 5 stars to Bitter Medicine, the 4th book in the VI Warshawski mystery thriller series by Sara Paretsky. I really enjoyed this book, more than many of the others. In this installment, VI is trying to help out a friend, but things don’t go well and both the young girl and her newly born baby die. VI’s convinced a malpractice suit against the hospital is the right thing, but she’s unsure what’s lurking beneath the surface. The best part of this series is the character of Lotty. Lotty’s like a mother figure to VI. She is the only person to put VI in her place when she is acting a bit out of control. And when Lotty is in danger, VI is a force to be reckoned with. In this novel, Paretsky takes on health care, clinics, the hospital, insurance, fraud, surgery and policy and procedure. It’s a great story, full of deep characters and lots of information about the inner circle of how things really work. A bit dated, given it’s nearly 20+ years old, it perhaps still rings a little true these days.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: Cutting for Stone

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Cutting for Stone
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

My rating is 3.5 of 5 stars to Abraham Verghese‘s novel, Cutting for Stone, which was a book club selection about 7 years ago. At first, I wasn’t sure I’d like the book, as I expected it to be quite sad. And back then, I wasn’t interested in reading sad or emotional books; however, this one was quite good and I waffled between a 3 and a 4. I settled on a 3 only because I felt it was a little too formal / stiff for the type of book it felt like it should have been — still above average to me, as far as books go.

The basics: Twin brothers born in Ethiopia, Africa. The mother dies during childbirth and the father will need to raise them, but fate intervenes and they are separated. The book chronicles the separate life of the two boys and the connections between them. It’s about the differences between America and Africa, love and fear, focus and desire. There are many surprises in the book, all leading you to root for certain things to happen in each of the relationships throughout the story.

I had never heard of the author before, and this is the only read I’ve tackled by him, so far. But he’s got several other books and short stories. For me, it was a little too focused on the medical side of their personalities / careers / activities. Not in a bad way, just enough that it didn’t burst at its seams as a superstar book. I also felt like it was a little light in the action at some points, but it certainly makes up for it in some major ways in the last third.

If you are interested in other cultures, different ways of doing things and what happens to twins when they aren’t always near one another… it’s a great read. I’d suggest reading a lot of reviews to decide if it’s for you… as it’s different than most books of its genres or sub-genre.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: All That Remains

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All That Remains
All That Remains by Patricia Cornwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The “Kay Scarpetta” mystery series by Patricia Cornwell was one of the first adult mystery book series I began reading. I also started these very young, around 13 or 14, which may not be the best thing for young adults if they don’t have a strong sense of right/wrong and a stomach to handle really gory stuff. All That Remains is the third book in the series about a forensic medical examiner in Virginia who helps solve brutal crimes.

What I love about the early books is the relationship between the detective, Pete Marino, and Scarpetta, the medical examiner. It’s love/hate, and as the series grows, their relationship gets very volatile and intense. In the early books, like this one, you just want to hate Pete but you know he’s got a heart in there. He represents a typical cop of the 1970s / 80s, who is starting to change his philosophy on women being involved in his jurisdiction. And he’s of course in love with her but can’t do anything about it.

In this book, young couples are brutally murdered. And the psychopath behind it all is playing games with Scarpetta. All her serial killers end up wanting to get to Scarpetta, to impress her, because of how methodical and intelligent she is.

Cornwell’s writing is intense. And she describes everything about the blood and guts during the autopsies, finding the victims and conveying what the murderer is likely doing to his/her victims.

As the title suggests, this is all about “what remains” of the body to be able to figure out who is the culprit. Every page leads you to revelations, and you want to close your eyes and pretend you’re not reading about the gore, but you can’t help needing to keep reading it.

Scarpetta is so complex. Sometimes you love her. Sometimes you really want to lock her in a closet until she learns how to play a little nicer. But she will always evoke some huge reaction from the reader.

If you can handle the creepy-factor and the explicit language (vicious, usually not too sexual), you have to read a couple of these books to see how hard the author works to make each one unique and a very complex mystery.

She was one of my faves, and I stopped around 17 or 18 in the series to give myself a break. I’m close to going back to finish it up. And she’s still writing more!

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.


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Review: Body of Evidence

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Body of Evidence
Body of Evidence by Patricia Cornwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was such a gruesome kid… in that I loved to read this series. Blood never bothered me, and the more psychopaths you throw at me, the happier of a reader I am. I think I learned some anatomy from this book. 🙂

The descriptions are vivid, not for the faint-hearted. Hits close to him when it’s about a writer being murdered. Almost decapitated.

The MC, Scarpetta, is a challenging character. She’s so honest and raw, you have to respect and love her. But she’s also got this side of her where I’d be a little scared to be her friend.

Very complex mystery. Lots of clues. Very intense read.

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