April 22, 2013

Book Review - Stress Test

Author: Richard L. Mabry, M.D.
Genre: Action/Mystery/Medical
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 302

I'd never read anything of this genre before, but I'd heard good things about Richard L. Mabry as a writer, so I thought I'd give it a try. I wasn't disappointed. I loved this book!

Excerpt from the back cover:
Dr. Matt Newman thought he was leaving his life as a surgeon in private practice for a better one in academic medicine. But the kidnappers who attacked him as he left the hospital at 2 a.m. have no such plans--they just want him dead. Bound and in the trunk of his car, Matt's only thought is fleeing with his life. He does escape, but at a price: a head injury that lands him in the ICU... where he awakens to discover he's being charged with murder.

While full of surprises and twists, this story showed a very refreshing lack of the exhausting convolution so prevalent in a lot of fiction I've read. It had a good, exciting adventure and mystery to it... honestly, it was a lot of fun.
There was some cheesiness to parts of the story - sadistic but none-too-bright evil henchmen Lou and Edgar, and Virgil Grimes the bad-tempered homicide detective, for example. They gave a rather Walker: Texas Ranger-esque feel to the book (which is even set in Texas). But it wasn't a bad kind of cheesiness at all--I know that sounds nonsensical, but it's true. And honestly, having grown up watching Walker, it didn't bother me that Stress Test had the same kind of feel to it. I actually found it quite delightful.
The characters were nicely developed. From time to time I came across bits of dialogue that felt stiff, but aside from that the character interaction was very natural, I thought. The characters spent very little time sitting around analyzing their own feelings, which I also found quite refreshing.
It's not often that the main character is my favorite one in the story, but this was one of those rare times. Matt Newman is a truly likeable character, and I love the way he develops over the course of the story. It felt extremely natural - no unexplained explosion of heroism, no fireworks, no melodrama.
The medical aspects of the story were, in my opinion, brilliantly done. The emergency room or other hospital scenes were paced and placed just perfectly so that the story didn't get bogged down with them, and they were very well written. Of course, in some instances that wasn't all that pleasant - sitting on the sofa reading about emergency room cases, and thinking I feel warm... I wonder if I have a fever. Is that an earache coming on? I think I'm having chest pain! - but I took it nevertheless as a sign of good writing. Though I'm still trying to recover from the scare I got while reading a scene about an aortic aneurism that was about to rupture, when the speaker on the family computer made a popping sound for no apparent reason. I thought I was going to bleed out for sure.
As I said earlier, I'd never read anything of this genre before, but I very much enjoyed my first sampling of it, and it has definitely made me interested in reading more of Dr. Mabry's work.

I received this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

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