"Under the Knife" (St. Martin's Press), by Kelly Parsons
Kelly Parsons' new medical thriller delivers an engrossing story about revenge, grief, technology and hospital practices.
The suspense level is high, but Parsons' fully realized characters, whose personalities have shades of gray, are his real achievement in "Under the Knife." No real villains emerge, although there are certainly people who do very bad things and whose motives are tied up in complicated emotions that become twisted.
Dr. Rita Wu, a highly respected assistant professor of surgery at the University of California in San Diego, wakes up in the hospital strapped to an operating table, naked and with no memory of how she got there. Rita's distress is compounded when she hears a voice in her head that seems to control her mind.
The voice belongs to Morgan Finney, a biotechnology tycoon and inventor who has implanted a device in Rita's brain. He blames Rita for the death of his wife, Jenny, who died during a surgery that Rita performed. Until Jenny came into his life, Morgan was socially inept, prone to solitude and brooding, and he has reverted back to his old ways. He refuses to believe that Jenny was in ill health and could not have been saved. Morgan wants to humiliate Rita, ruin her career and reputation and kill her loved ones. As her supervisors and co-workers begin to question her sanity, Rita turns to her former lover, Dr. Spencer Cameron, a surgeon and inventor.
While the idea of a device implanted in one's brain sounds far-fetched, Parsons grounds his plot in real science and shows he's well underway to becoming one of the top authors in the medical thriller genre.