Under the Knife by Kelly Parsons is a heart-pounding medical thriller that will have readers on the edge of their seats up to the very last page.
Morgan Finney has made a lot of money from biotechnology. However, the brilliance he exhibits in his business is not reflected in his personal life. Inherent shyness and a debilitating inability to connect with people could have condemned him to a life of luxury bereft of human contact. But he managed to find a wife, Jenny, through whom he manages some sort of semblance of normalcy with his fellow human beings. She really is his everything.
But financial resources mean nothing when it comes to the cruel hand of fate, dealing death and misery without prejudice. Nothing Finney can do can stop the death of his beloved wife under the surgeon’s knife. The medical team does their best, but fate steps in and plucks Jenny away from the loving arms of the loner who relied on her completely for any sense of direction and connection to the human life.
Not surprisingly, the grief is monumental and comes over him in waves the likes of which he has never experienced before the loss of his partner. A relatively short space of time sees the sorrow fester, ferment, and then burst into something completely different: hate, rage, and an overwhelming desire for revenge.
The object of his bile is the surgeon who was operating on Jenny. Finney considers it to be the sole fault of Dr. Rita Wu. The forceps of the mind are clumsy things when they try to make sense of the truth, but the possibility that Dr. Wu did everything in her power to save Jenny is of no interest to Finney. She has killed the most precious thing in his life, so he decides she must die too—but first he’ll destroy her. A simple death is of no interest to the man with so much yet so little.
However, Finney is not so isolated that he cannot work with a colleague. Sebastian, a man with a present as cloudy as his past, doesn’t delay in helping Finney in his twisted plan:
It was remarkable, Sebastian observed, how easy it was to walk unchallenged into the operating room of a major university hospital, in a major U.S. city.
You couldn’t board a commercial airliner these days without a goddamn body- cavity search, but you could write down a name in black Sharpie on an adhesive paper name tag (or better yet, use a printer, which is what Sebastian had done), slap it on your chest, claim to work for some surgical device manufacturer (any of the big ones that had contracts with the hospital would do), and stroll right the hell in, unchallenged, thank you very much.
After changing into a suit and tie he’d stowed above a ceiling tile in a little-used men’s room, Sebastian had slipped unnoticed into a group of about twenty observers gathering near an entrance to the construction area at the end of a long corridor on the third floor. All the commotion, with the handing out of hard hats and review of safety rules, had provided perfect cover.
Kelly Parsons has produced a top-class thriller that blends medical know-how with criminal intent in the most spine-tingling way. The combination of medicine and crime—two things that were never meant to go together—creates a nightmare quality that is perfectly captured by Mr. Parsons.
Medical thrillers often get bogged down with specifics, tipping the story into a complicated quarry of terms and toe-curling descriptions that leave you numb and senseless as though you were ready for the operating theater. But, despite Mr. Parsons’s extensive medical background (or maybe because of), Under the Knife manages to avoid these trappings. The balance between action and terminology is perfectly struck. The characters leap off the page—some armed with a scalpel and some without—but all have the same aim: to draw you in and keep you riveted to the spot, without the aid of restraints.
Get your hands on a copy of this book and enjoy, just don’t read it before you go under the knife.
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Dirk Robertson is a Scots thriller writer, currently in Virginia where he is promoting literacy and art projects for young gang members. When not writing, tweeting, or blogging on the Mystery Writers of America website, he designs and knits clothes and handbags from recycled rubbish.