In keeping with my predilection of reading books of varying styles and genres, I welcomed Chris Stookey’s medical thriller “Where Death Is a Hunter” with open eyes. The medical thriller genre is a tricky one. It could either be so chockfull of jargon and clichés that only fanatics of the genre will be left satiated. Or, on the other hand, it could be so sterile and cold that one feels like they would have had a better time sitting in a waiting room. Fortunately, neither of which apply to “Where Death is a Hunter.”
The lead character in the novel is not so unlike the naïve, fiercely intelligent doctors one sees on Grey’s Anatomy or defunct ER. Hannah Fatier (a really unfortunate surname if pronounced phonetically or with an accent) is green in every which way; newly out of residency, a home recently acquired, and pending nuptials to the love of her life. Clearly, this plethora of good luck and good news cannot be sustained, thus resulting in the event that truly commences the strength in the narrative. Under Hannah’s care, a patient dies during what is described as a routine operation. What unfolds is a taut medical mystyery where Hannah shifts from true despondency to the understanding that she may have been framed.
Soon, Hannah takes it upon herself to begin putting the missing puzzle pieces together that will help exonerate her alleged guilt. This journey towards absolution is sordid and difficult for our dear heroine, and she begins to question many of the things she had considered irrefutable, including the ever-touchy topic of betrayal.
Chris Stookey’s presentation of a heroine in this age-old genre is unique in may ways. Firstly, Hannah is not a specialized cardiac surgeon or otolaryngologist – in fact, she’s the less glamorous but equally important anesthesiologist. This is a clever detail to include by Stookey in that it accentuates her implied guilty in the patient’s death. It’s a refreshing take on the malpractice fodder that litters so many other popular medical thrillers (sorry, Robin Cook.) Typically it’s the highly regarded cardiologist or other specialized doctor that encounters this type of issue.
Secondly, the author also chooses to assign a fair amount of detail on Hannah’s being sued for medical malpractise. Thus, the book is infused with legal suspense as well as medical suspense. Right when the reader may feel overwhelmed with medical drama, in comes the court. It’s a smart interplay. Further, as Stookey himself is a doctor, there is a certain legitimacy in the words used and situations depicted. The devil is in the details, and in this instance, Stookey is the devil himself.
Simply put, I enjoy reading books where my own personal knowledge base in increased. Stookey intelligently has written a literal page-turner where suspense is abound with every detail learned about our poor heroine, and its these details that establishes the fact that a credible, keen author has been born.