Deadly Medicine

Deadly Medicine - Jaime Maddox First Impressions:
Awesome medical thriller! Chills, thrills and a sweet, sexy romance tucked in between. It got off to a shaky start but everything eventually falls into place as the book hits its stride.

Full Review:
To maximize your enjoyment of this book, DO NOT READ the second paragraph of the official blurb. It's chock full of spoilers. Seriously, who wrote the blurb? It reveals plot points almost to the end! A huge part of the book is the thriller aspect, and the less one knows the better it works.

Here's a safer summary:
Successful ER doctor Ward Thrasher uproots her life and her flourishing career in a busy Philly hospital to the mountains of Pennsylvania to follow her partner of 6 years, Dr. Jess Benson, another ER doc. But after a few months, they grow increasingly apart, especially after the death of Jess' mother from cancer, and eventually separate over a freak incident, though neither of them have officially called it quits.

Ward still nurses a flame and can't bring herself to return to Philly. So she takes up temporary doctor duties in several hospitals near to Jess. A chance meeting with the CEO of one of them, Abby, brings romantic possibilities. But what about her unfinished business with Jess? Is Abby a temporary rebound romance? What chance does it have against a 6-year relationship? Meanwhile, a psycopath is on the loose. Not on the streets of Pennsylvania, but inside the halls of its hospitals. His MO is chillingly effective and virtually undetectable. Will he ever be discovered and stopped before he reaches his avowed goal of breaking all serial killer records?

I was expecting this to be another Radclyffe-style medical romance, which I'd enjoyed in the past, but it is so much more. It's a full-fledged medical thriller and at the same time a fully developed romance.

The book started off on an unsteady foot as some of the initial plot developments felt clunky and contrived (though most of them were cleared up later in the book). Both of the MCs also started as being unlikable: Jess was cold and callous, and Ward looked pitiable in her attempts to hang on to Jess.

Things perk up when they eventually separate and Ward goes back to work and starts to get a life and earn some of her self-respect back. It's at this point that the book fortunately shifts from mostly 'telling' to 'showing'. The development of the romance with Abby is very well done, perked up by sparkling banter and humor. Their scenes show the author's dry wit at its best. Fascinating and fully-fleshed out supporting characters complete a varied and colorful cast, including a villain that can give Hannibal Lecter a run for his money. Even better are the medical scenes. They are spot-on, detailed and well-chosen for effect. And by effect, I mean those that both impress and sicken the reader. In between the good-doctor ER scenes, we are chillingly reminded of the sinister evil that lurks in the guise of a benign medical doctor. These scenes are brief but nauseating. Not in the graphical sense--there is no gore--but the effect is stomach-churning. Squeamish readers can choose to skip these scenes though--just like closing your eyes in a horror movie. :)

A huge part of the success of the book as a thriller is the pacing. We get progressively antsier as the body count rises and no one is the wiser. Will the killer cross paths with our MCs? Things start to heat up considerably when the book shifts to investigative mode. I actually enjoyed this part the best, as the hunt for clues starts up in earnest, sputters, picks up again and just when you think they've finally nailed the bastard, he turns the tables on them. I was half expecting the usual standard trope of a slam-bang finish that lesfic authors usually resort to. Something along the lines of 'killer grabs Jess, Ward tries to save Jess, killer grabs Ward, killer launches into a monologue and confesses everything, and Abby saves the day!' (I'm channeling Coma, lol) but we get a perfectly logical, practical, realistic ending. Kudos to the author for that!

But what really lifted this medical thriller to a 5-star rating in my book is its authenticity. The devil is truly in the details, as Dr. Hawk says. From the dialogue, to the procedures, to the staging, and even the paper trail. The descriptions are meticulous but never boring or irrelevant. You get that this is how real medical professionals talk and work. I don't watch much medical TV dramas beyond an occasional episode, but people who like these genres, with all the attendant drama and suspense, will love the book.

Note: ARC provided by Netgalley

Some of my favorite lines from the book:

Ward: “People are going to start talking, Abby.”
Abby: “Fuck them.”
Ward: “I’d rather keep fucking you.”

“Oh, no, we awakened the beast,” Frieda said as she lowered her head and cringed.
“Do you have lesbians down there?” Irene screamed.
“Yes, Mother. We’re having an orgy.”
“Well, send them home and come to bed. It’s the middle of the night.”
“Okay, Mom,”

Dr. Hawk: “Remind me not to use sux when I’m in a hurry,” (Darkly hilarious! Gotta read this to appreciate!)