Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mystery Book Review: Code 15 by Gary Birken

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Code 15 by Gary Birken. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Code 15 by Gary Birken

by
Non-series

Jove (Mass Market Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0-515-14720-6 (0515147206)
ISBN-13: 978-0-515-14720-9 (9780515147209)
Publication Date: November 2009
List Price: $7.99

Review: Dr. Gary Birken crafts an absorbing medical thriller set in a large hospital in Miami in Code 15, the title taken from a (fictional?) code used to indicate deaths caused by preventable errors.

Dr. Morgan Connolly is the Chief of Emergency Medicine at Dade Presbyterian Hospital. While under her care, two brothers with advanced cases of meningitis die. Their father threatens action against both Connolly and the hospital. Several months later, a patient attacks her own father, also a physician at the hospital, by injecting him with compressed air, killing him. Devastated by the loss of her father, and with a threat of legal action against her, she is urged to seek counseling. But her situation soon gets worse. Another patient is given the wrong medication during emergency surgery and dies, then two young women, in separate instances, die after being treated in the emergency room. These latter deaths are all classified as Code 15s: preventable medical errors. Connolly isn't convinced these were all accidents, but were intentionally caused by someone -- possibly the same person who killed her father. But who will believe her?

Code 15 is a brilliantly constructed and electrifying murder mystery that offers an insider look at how hospitals operate, the laws that govern what physicians and hospitals may or may not do, and the technology used to monitor and safeguard patient treatment and care. The character of Dr. Morgan Connolly may be a little too dramatically drawn -- not only is she grieving for her dead father and fending off charges of incompetence, but she's estranged from her gambling addictive husband and in her first trimester of pregnancy -- but that's a minor criticism in what is otherwise a first-rate thriller.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Code 15 and to Goldberg McDuffie Communications for providing a copy of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved

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Synopsis (from the publisher): As the Chief of Emergency Medicine at Dade Presbyterian Hospital, Dr. Morgan Connolly faces death and suffering on a daily basis. So when two brothers in her care suddenly die from far advanced meningitis, she is devastated but understands as a doctor, she has to let it go. Not long after, Morgan's own father is killed in what seems to be a random attack. At the same time, the number of patients dying due to devastating but seemingly preventable medical mistakes -- also known as a Code 15 -- begins rising dramatically throughout the hospital.

Morgan become suspicious that her father's death and that of the other patients were not random events. Her relentless pursuit of the truth leads her superiors to think she's losing her edge. As she begins to unwind a ruthless conspiracy, Morgan becomes convinced someone or some group is cutting a deadly path of vengeance through Dade Presbyterian -- a path that may end with her facing her own demise at the hands of a merciless madman.

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