Tag Archives: medical thriller

White Lightning: Prohibition and Predators: A Mystery Across the Centuries with a White Knuckle Finish You Won’t Believe (Hope Sze medical mystery Book 9) by Melissa Yi Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Doctor and mystery investigator extraordinaire Hope Sze finds herself investigating a century-old mystery as a weekend trip to an old prohibition era inn hosting a fictional villain convention leads to the discovery of bones, and a threat to those staying in the inn in author Melissa Yi’s “White Lightning: Prohibition and Predators: A Mystery Across the Centuries with a White Knuckle Finish You Won’t Believe (Hope Sze medical mystery Book 9)”.

The Synopsis

FROM HOOCH HIGHWAY TO HOMICIDE

Hope Sze escapes for a romantic weekend away at the Rumrunner’s Rest, a Roaring Twenties inn once celebrated both for Prohibition’s best alcohol and the smoothest jazz bands north of the Detroit River.

Then a convention of fictional villains overrun the tavern, her friend glimpses a ghost, and Hope uncovers a grisly surprise in the fireplace that may be related to Al Capone, the infamous gangster.

At least two people disappeared from this very inn, and one soul will not rest in peace.

Tonight, unless Hope unravels a century’s worth of clues, death will collect several more lives. Including the one, she holds most dear.

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The Review

This was a perfect mystery read! The author continues to enthrall and entertain readers with the perfect balance of mystery, history, and engaging character-driven narrative to really entice and bring readers to the edge of their seats. The inclusion of prohibition-era history, from the prohibition bars that were so popular a century ago, to Al Capone and a character’s possible relation to him, really elevated the actual mystery that this story held. 

What stood out to me though was the character development. It was incredible to see these characters evolve and grow as the story progressed, especially going into the 9th story in this growing mystery series. From the medical aspect of the character’s perspective on the mystery of these grisly findings inside of the inn’s chimney to the sudden appearance of an old flame who turned Hope’s world upside down years ago to the question of whether or not history and our ancestry can have any sort of impact on our world today, each character really exhibited chemistry and balance with one another, as did the growing shroud of shocks and thrills to the novel. 

The Verdict

A masterful, heart-pounding, and brilliant medical thriller and mystery read, author Melissa Yi’s “White Lightning” is a must-read novel of 2021 and the perfect next installment in Hope’s growing mystery series. The historical nature of the character’s in the flashbacks and how they relate to the modern-day mystery really add extra depth to the novel, making this a thrilling fall and winter read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Melissa Yi is an emergency physician and award-winning writer. In her newest crime novel, SCORPION SCHEME, Dr. Hope Sze lands in Cairo and discovers a man with a nail through his skull who might hold the key to millions in buried gold. Previous Hope Sze thrillers were recommended by The Globe and Mail, CBC Books, and The Next Chapter as one of the best Canadian suspense novels. Yi was shortlisted for the Derringer Award for the world’s best short mystery fiction. Under the name Melissa Yuan-Innes, she also writes medical humor and has won speculative fiction awards. http://www.melissayuaninnes.com/

Scorpion Scheme: Death and Danger on the Nile (Hope Sze Medical Mystery Book 8) by Melissa Yi Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A chance at studying the ancient history and culture of the Egyptians leads Dr. Hope Sze and her fiancé to Egypt, where they become embroiled in a shocking mystery as they search for fabled treasure and must outwit a dangerous criminal mastermind in author Melissa Yi’s “Scorpion Scheme: Death and Danger on the Nile”, the eighth book in the Hope Sze Medical Mystery series. 

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The Synopsis

PHARAOHS’ TOMBS. ANCIENT MYTHS. MODERN-DAY MURDER

Dr. Hope Sze doesn’t need a free trip to Egypt.

She can’t afford the flight to Cairo, or the cruise down the Nile, so she’d keep studying in Canada—except her fiancé, Dr. John Tucker, yearns to patrol the pyramids and confront the curse on King Tutankhamun’s tomb.

So when a company offers them both a free stay in Cairo in exchange for a month’s work in an emergency department, Tucker lobbies for a pre-honeymoon in the Valley of Kings and Queens, investigating the windswept temple of Hatshepsut, or scuba diving in the Red Sea.

Instead, within 90 minutes of arrival, Hope drops to her knees outside the Grand Egyptian Museum, desperate to save a now-comatose 87-year-old Johannesburg man who’d raved about Kruger and treasure after receiving a nail through his skull.

Tucker fixates on their one chance at the legendary Kruger Millions, a rumored fortune that many believe lies secretly stowed somewhere in South Africa.

Since their combined student debt load totals half a million dollars, Tucker can’t pass up the possibility of a treasure trove in buried gold.

Hope launches into her first mystery based in a birthplace of human civilization.

Where the evil god Set battled righteous Horus and Isis in an 80-year war.

Where wealth and power clash with political revolution.

Where Antony fell in love with Cleopatra.

Where Hope and Tucker must outwit, or fall prey, to a ruthless criminal mastermind.

The Review

A fantastic blend of medical drama and an action-packed mystery like no other, this novel was a massive draw for this reader, especially as a fan of Indiana Jones and his films. The author does a great job of bringing their own authenticity to Hope’s character as the author is also a medical doctor, and from the book’s first chapters readers are treated to the protagonist’s heroic call to action to help others with her skills.

The big draw of course is the amazing historical mystery and action-packed heroics against this criminal mastermind. The author does a fantastic job of not only making this book accessible to both newcomers and fans of the series alike, but of crafting a character that feels authentic and brings history and its many mysteries to life, especially in such a short read.

The Verdict

A masterful, entertaining and engaging medical drama and action & adventure novel, author Melissa Yi’s “Scorpion Scheme” is a must-read novel! The motivations behind the characters are very reminiscent of classic mystery adventure novels, while the action keeps readers on the edge of their seats as the thrilling conclusion comes full circle. Be sure to grab your copy of this wonderful read today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

I read, therefore I am. I’ve been reading since my parents used to abandon me at the library.

When I was ten years old, we moved to Frankfurt, Germany, to a relative dearth of English books, and I started writing stories instead.

We moved back to Canada, and I started reading voraciously again, abandoning my pen and word processor for a few years before picking them up again. Nowadays, I read and write whenever I can, although my day/night jobs of emergency medicine and motherhood whisk me away regularly. 

http://melissayuaninnes.com/

First Cut by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A medical examiner new to the San Francisco area finds herself embroiled in a harrowing case involving a murder to cover up the actions of a ruthless drug lord in authors Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell’s “First Cut”. 

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The Synopsis

Wife and husband duo Dr. Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell first enthralled the book world with their runaway bestselling memoir Working Stiff—a fearless account of a young forensic pathologist’s “rookie season” as a NYC medical examiner. This winter, Dr. Melinek, now a prominent forensic pathologist in the Bay Area, once again joins forces with writer T.J. Mitchell to take their first stab at fiction. 

The result: FIRST CUT (Hanover Square Press; Hardcover; January 7, 2020; $26.99)—a gritty and compelling crime debut about a hard-nosed San Francisco medical examiner who uncovers a dangerous conspiracy connecting the seedy underbelly of the city’s nefarious opioid traffickers and its ever-shifting terrain of tech startups.

Dr. Jessie Teska has made a chilling discovery. A suspected overdose case contains hints of something more sinister: a drug lord’s attempt at a murderous cover up. As more bodies land on her autopsy table, Jessie uncovers a constellation of deaths that point to an elaborate network of powerful criminals—on both sides of the law—that will do anything to keep things buried. But autopsy means “see for yourself,” and Jessie Teska won’t stop until she’s seen it all—even if it means the next corpse on the slab could be her own.

The Review

A brilliant read, this novel perfectly blends the expertise and gritty reality of forensic work and the work of the medical examiners office with the harrowing and heart-pounding action that comes with a good thriller. 

The story cuts into the complex web of lies uncovered by Jessie Teska, from drug kingpins and dirty lawyers to collegues she thought she could trust and beyond. Haunted by a painful past, Jessie finds herself fighting to uncover the truth behind a horrific crime, with only her brilliant mind and determination to aid her in her fight against politics, criminal empires and more. 

The Verdict

A fantastic thriller for anyone who enjoys a heavy mix of medical forensics and suspense, authors Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell have created a masterful story that will give readers a protagonist to root for, a story to engage with and a brilliant race to the finish that will keep readers on the edge of their seat. If you haven’t yet, grab your copy of Final Cut today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Authors

Judy Melinek was an assistant medical examiner in San Francisco for nine years, and today works as a forensic pathologist in Oakland and as CEO of PathologyExpert Inc. She and T.J. Mitchell met as undergraduates at Harvard, after which she studied medicine and practiced pathology at UCLA. Her training in forensics at the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner is the subject of their first book, the memoir Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner.
T.J. Mitchell is a writer with an English degree from Harvard, and worked in the film industry before becoming a full-time stay-at-home dad. He is the New York Times bestselling co-author of Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner with his wife, Judy Melinek.

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EXCERPT

PROLOGUE

Los Angeles
May

The dead woman on my table had pale blue eyes, long lashes, no mascara. She wore a thin rim of black liner on her lower lids but none on the upper. I inserted the twelve gauge needle just far enough that I could see its beveled tip through the pupil, then pulled the syringe plunger to aspirate a sample of vitreous fluid. That was the first intrusion I made on her corpse during Mary Catherine Walsh’s perfectly ordinary autopsy.

The external examination had been unremarkable. The decedent appeared to be in her midthirties, blond hair with dun roots, five foot four, 144 pounds. After checking her over and noting identifying marks (monochromatic professional tattoo of a Celtic knot on lower left flank, appendectomy scar on abdomen, well-healed stellate scar on right knee), I picked up a scalpel and sliced from each shoulder to the breastbone, and then all the way down her belly. I peeled back the layers of skin and fat on her torso—an ordinary amount, maybe a little on the chubby side—and opened the woman’s chest like a book.

I had made similar Y-incisions on 256 other bodies during my ten months as a forensic pathologist at the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office, and this one was easy. No sign of trauma. Normal liver. Healthy lungs. There was nothing wrong with her heart. The only significant finding was the white, granular material of the gastric contents. In her stomach was a mass of semidigested pills.

When I opened her uterus, I found she’d been pregnant. I measured the fetus’s foot length and estimated its age at twelve weeks. The fetus appeared to have been viable. It was too young to determine sex.

I deposited the organs one by one at the end of the stainless-steel table. I had just cut into her scalp to start on the skull when Matt, the forensic investigator who had collected the body the day before, came in.

“Clean scene,” he reported, depositing the paperwork on my station. “Suicide.”

I asked him where he was going for lunch. Yogurt and a damn salad at his desk, he told me: bad cholesterol and a worried wife. I extended my condolences as he headed back out of the autopsy suite.

I scanned through Matt’s handwriting on the intake sheet and learned that the body had been found, stiff and cold, in a locked and secure room at the Los Angeles Omni hotel. The cleaning staff called the police. The ID came from the name on the credit card used to pay for the room, and was confirmed by fingerprint comparison with her driver’s license thumbprint. A handwritten note lay on the bed stand, a pill bottle in the trash. Nothing else. Matt was right: There was no mystery to the way Mary Walsh had died.

I hit the dictaphone’s toe trigger and pointed my mouth toward the microphone dangling over the table. “The body is identified by a Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s tag attached to the right great toe, inscribed LACD-03226, Walsh, Mary Catherine…”

I broke the seal on the plastic evidence bag and pulled out the pill bottle. It was labeled OxyContin, a powerful painkiller, and it was empty.

“Accompanying the body is a sealed plastic bag with an empty prescription medication bottle. The name on the prescription label…”

I read the name but didn’t speak it. The hair started standing up on my neck. I looked down at my morning’s work—the splayed body, flecked with gore, the dissected womb tossed on a heap of other organs.

That can’t be, I told myself. It can’t.

On the clipboard underneath the case intake sheet I found a piece of hotel stationery sealed in another evidence bag. It was the suicide note, written in blue ink with a steady feminine hand. I skimmed it—then stopped, and went back.

I read it again.

I heard the clipboard land at my feet. I gripped the raised lip of my autopsy table. I held tight while the floor fell away.


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Q&A with Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell

Q: Do you plan your books in advance or let them develop as you write?

A:The idea for First Cut was prompted by some of Judy’s actual cases when she worked as a San Francisco medical examiner. She has real experience performing autopsy death investigation, and she also has the imagination to apply that experience to a fictional framework for our forensic detective, Dr. Jessie Teska. Judy invented the story, and together we worked it up as an outline. Then T.J. sat in a room wrestling with words all day—which he loves to do—to produce the first complete manuscript. That’s our inspiration plus perspiration dynamic as co-authors.

Q: What does the act of writing mean to you?

A: It is, and has always been, something we can do together, an important part of our marriage. We’ve collaborated as a creative team since we were in college together many years ago, producing and directing student theater. We’ve also spent twenty years raising our four children, and have always approached parenting as a partnership. We find it easy to work together because we write like we parent: relying on one another, each of us playing to our strengths. It helps that, in our writing process, we have no overlapping skill set!

 Q: Have you ever had a character take over a story, and if so, who was it and why?

A: Oh, yes! That’s our heroine, Dr. Jessie Teska. She has elements of Judy in her, and elements of T.J., but Jessie is a distinct individual and a strong-willed one. We’re often surprised and even shocked by the ways she reacts to the situations we put her in. There are times we’ll be writing what we thought was a carefully laid-out scene, and Jessie will take us sideways. She’s coming off T.J.’s fingertips on the the keyboard, both of us watching with mouths agape, saying, “What the hell is she up to?”

Q: Which one of First Cut’s characters was the hardest to write and why?

A: Tommy Teska, Jessie’s brother. He’s a minor character to the book’s plot, but the most important person in Jessie’s life, and he’s a reticent man, downright miserly with his dialogue. Tommy carries such great emotional weight, but it was hard to draw it out of him, especially because so much of his bond to our heroine is in the backstory of First Cut, not in the immediate narrative that lands on the page. We’re now working on the sequel, Cross Cut, and finding that Tommy has more occasion to open up in that story.

Q: Which character in any of your books (First Cut or otherwise) is dearest to you and why?

A: The late Dr. Charles Sidney Hirsch, from our first book, the memoir Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner. Dr. Hirsch is not just a character: He was a real person, Judy’s mentor and a towering figure in the world of forensic pathology. Dr. Hirsch trained Dr. Melinek in her specific field of medicine and imbued in her his passion for it. He was a remarkable man, a great teacher and physician and public servant—a person of uncompromising integrity coupled with great emotional intelligence.

Q: What did you want to be as a child? Was it an author?

A: Judy’s father was a physician, and though she never wanted to follow in his immediate footsteps—he was a psychiatrist—she has always wanted to be another Dr. Melinek. T.J. has always been a writer, but also has theater training and worked in the film industry. As much as we enjoyed authoring the memoir Working Stiff, and as happy as we have been with its success, we are even more thrilled to be detective novelists.

Q: What does a day in the life of Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell look like?

A: Judy is a morning person and T.J.’s a night owl, so we split parenting responsibilities. Judy gets the kids off to school and then heads to the morgue, where she performs autopsies in the morning and works with police, district attorneys, and defense lawyers in the afternoon. T.J. takes care of the household and after-school duties. If we work together during the day, it’s usually by email in the late afternoon. T.J. cooks dinner, Judy goes to bed early, and he’s up late—at his most productive writing from nine to midnight or later.

Q: What do you use to inspire you when you get Writer’s Block?

A: We go for a long walk together. Our far corner of San Francisco overlooks the Pacific Ocean, bracketed by cypress trees and blown over with fog, and serves as an inspiring landscape. We explore the edge of the continent and talk out where our characters have been and where they need to get, tossing ideas back and forth until a solution, what to do next on the page, emerges. Getting away for a stroll with our imaginary friends is always a fruitful exercise!

Q: What book would you take with you to a desert island?

A: T.J. would take the Riverside Shakespeare, and Judy would take Poisonous Plants: A Handbook for Doctors, Pharmacists, Toxicologists, Biologists and Veterinarians, Illustrated.

Q: Do you have stories on the back burner that are just waiting to be written?

A: Always! We are inspired by Dr. Melinek’s real-life work, both in the morgue and at crime scenes, in police interrogation rooms, and in courtrooms. Our stories are fiction—genre fiction structured in the noir-detective tradition—but the forensic methods our detective employs and the scientific findings she comes to are drawn from real death investigations.

Q: What has been the hardest thing about publishing? What has been the most fun?

A: The hardest thing is juggling our work schedules to find uninterrupted time together to write. The most fun is meeting and talking to our readers at book events, especially those who have been inspired to go into the field of forensic pathology after reading our work.

Q: What advice would you give budding authors about publishing?

A: It’s all about connectivity. Linking up with other writers, readers, editors, and research experts is a crucial way to get your work accomplished, and to get it out to your audience. Yes, ultimately it’s just you and the keyboard, but in the course of writing your story, you can and should tap into the hive mind, online and in person, for inspiration and help.

Q: What was the last thing you read?

A: Judy last read The Cadaver King and the Country Dentist by Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington, and T.J. last read The Witch Elm by Tana French.

Q: Your top five authors?

A: Judy’s are Atul Gawande, Henry James, Kathy Reichs, Mary Roach, and Oliver Sacks. T.J.’s are Margaret Atwood, Joseph Heller, Ed McBain, Ross Macdonald, and Kurt Vonnegut.

Q: Book you’ve bought just for the cover?

A: T.J.: Canary by Duane Swierczynski. Judy: Mütter Museum Historical Medical Photographs.

Q: Tell us about what you’re working on now.

A: First Cut is the debut novel in a detective series, and we’ve recently finished the rough draft of Cross Cut, its sequel. We are in the revision phase now, killing our darlings and tightening our tale, working to get the further adventures of Dr. Jessie Teska onto bookshelves next year!

The Case Files of Doctor Arthur Lyons: Medical Examiner (Book Volume Book 1) by Dr. William Anderson Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Dr. William Anderson dives head first into the complex world of medical examiners and the far too often injustices that our legal system fails to recognize or get justice for in the medical/crime drama, “The Case Files of Doctor Arthur Lyons: Medical Examiner (Volume Book 1). Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

There was a day in the early times of the invention of the medical examiner where this esteemed doctor and pathologist held the job of declaring people dead. Nowadays it is much different. Not only does he affirm time of death, he is involved with the entire community of law enforcement officials, their politics, as well as the many different agendas they hold. 

The cases of Dr. Lyons will shows you the different hats a medical examiner must wear during a single case on the street, in his office, and in the court room. 

The Review

This was one of the most interesting, gripping and intense medical crime thrillers I’ve read in a while. Instead of focusing on a single case, the author does a brilliant job of highlighting the failure of law enforcement and state medical examiners to properly investigate the deaths of individuals who have had no justice done in their investigations. These three cases seem to mirror real life events, or at least speak to the current injustices we see plastered over the internet in this day and age.

In a time where racial violence is on the rise and distrust between people and the police is more and more evident, the author does a marvelous job bringing these issues into the novel. The cases are presented in a clear and concise way, with the author’s medical knowledge showing in every passage. The detail that goes into the examinations of the victims and the detailed account of what each finding means in regards to the victim’s death is fascinating to see unfold, and readers will be left breathless and on the edge of their seat as the investigations unravel before their eyes.

The Verdict

This is a must read novel! Filled with elements of thrillers, mysteries, and detailed medical forensics that give this novel an air of authenticity that few other medical/crime thrillers have, author Dr. William Anderson has created a remarkable novel filled with three heart-pounding tales that will fascinate, enrage and engage readers on multiple levels. If you haven’t yet, grab your copy of The Case Files of Doctor Arthur Lyons: Medical Examiner (Volume Book 1) today!

Rating: 10/10

https://amzn.to/2Q6WCRQ

The Girl At The Bar by Nicholas Nash Review

A one night stand turns into a nightmare as the lives of several people get ensnared in a deadly missing person’s case in the upcoming thriller,
The Girl At The Bar!

I was given this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own and unbiased.

A psychological thriller. More twists and turns than a country road. Gripping characters.

These are just a few ways to describe the thriller The Girl At The Bar by Nicholas Nash. Here’s the synopsis:

Rebecca, a brilliant cancer researcher, disappears after a one-night stand with a neurotic man with a questionable past.

Her sudden disappearance in the midst of a high-stakes quest to cure cancer between two rival billionaires sets into motion an inexplicable
chain of events as the bodies start to pile up.

No one knows why she disappeared. The race to find answers ensnares everyone around her, one of whom is a deeply disturbed psychopath lurking
in the shadows.

Is Rebecca still alive? What happened to her? Who did it? And why? Questions about her vex everyone looking for answers. No one can be trusted
and no one is above suspicion…

There were some great plot points explored in this novel. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the author tackle a character that nearly fell into the
overly used plot of having a mental disorder that caused them to be violent, but instead this book did an excellent job of showcasing a character
who suffered with a mental illness and yet continued to strive forward and fight the preconceived notions of what living with mental illness
means, and showed that the character was flawed yet human.

I also thought it was interesting to explore the world of cancer research in such an in-depth way. I must admit I had little to no knowledge of
cancer research, and yet I feel way more informed than I did going into the book. The author did a great job of capturing the emotions that
went into the scientific exploration of this viscous disease, as well as the emotional toll of battles lost to the disease.

The plot was strong indeed, as were the vast variety of different characters involved in the plot, from the police investigating the crime to
the suspects of the kidnapping to the innocents caught in the crossfire. While I will note this: in the spirit of honesty, there were a couple
of grammatical errors that were noticeable throughout the book. However they were so minor and spread far apart from one another in the entirety
of the book, that it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the book at all, and I don’t think it will for you guys either.

Overall, this was a fantastic thriller that everyone should read. The book does a great job of exploring the notion that humanity in general
is flawed, and yet being flawed doesn’t make a person evil. The villain of this story can even be attributed to both the antagonist and the
main plot point: cancer itself. Once you learn the origins of this villain, you will see how closely their rise to villainy resembles the
mutation of cancer, making this a deep emotional and psychological study of both diseases: cancer and evil. This is a must read novel, so be
sure to get your copies of Nicholas Nash’s The Girl At The Bar on February 1st, 2017. I give this book a 8/10 star rating, and hope you guys will
read it for yourselves!