Chris Ravello, an ex-NYPD cop, has a supposedly incurable and debilitating disease, and nothing the doctors have tried seems to work. He learns of a radical new treatment being developed by an eccentric researcher, and decides to give it a try, even though it could kill him if it fails. Against the advice of his friends, he signs up, and after receiving the treatment finds himself changing. He’s not sure who—or what—he’s changing into. To complicate matters, his former partner is assigned a medical crimes case that is way beyond his capability to deal with, and he calls on Chris for help. Coincidentally, it seems that there have been several unexplained deaths of patients who underwent the same treatment as Chris.
Forbidden Cure by William Rubio is a medical thriller that explores the ethical dimensions of unlicensed medical research, but there are also elements of pure thriller with the introduction of a jailed serial killer who is obsessed with Chris and who claims to have information that Chris’s wife did not die as he thought, but is still alive.
This book has the makings of a hit, but the author never seems to be sure which story he’s telling. Worse, the book ends without resolution of any of the issues raised, leaving me frustrated and feeling a bit cheated. We don’t know the outcome, or even the potential outcome of the questionable procedure performed on Chris, we don’t know what happened to his wife, and the crime is not solved.
The author writes well insofar as his grasp of the language is concerned, but needs to understand that thriller fans want resolution. When a book ends and you’re left scratching your head and wondering what just happened, it’s unlikely you’ll be interested in reading a sequel.
I give this one three stars for the quality of writing only. Story structure, though, is unfortunately sub-par.
Annabel Tillson, a third-year medical student is starting her clinical rotation. Her first stop is the surgery ward, where she initially finds it difficult to live up to her neurosurgeon father’s stellar reputation, and one of the medical residents has an intense dislike of her. Then, patients start dying within 24 hours of uncomplicated surgical procedures. Annabel suspects there is some commonality among the deceased, and, with the help of a resident from another specialty, undertakes her own investigation.
Dead Still by Barbara Ebel is a stunning medical mystery that, unlike other mysteries, doesn’t have a human antagonist. Nonetheless, it has a human villain who complicates Annabel’s already complicated life. The author displays her extensive medical knowledge, mostly through dialogue, perhaps more than really necessary, but it is still a compelling read. After reading this book, the reader is likely to think twice before going to hospital, even for a simple procedure. The characters are all fully fleshed out, the setting is intense, and the plot is well crafted.
I give it four stars.