Monday, March 7, 2011

Lansing author questions ethics of medicine field

Two recent novels focus on hospitals, eccentric doctors and questions of medical ethics. Each feature strong, interesting characters placed in unusual, life-threatening situations.

“Child from the Ashes” by prolific Lansing author J.R. Kesler (CreateSpace, $14.95) offers an intriguing premise that showcases dilemmas facing pediatric resident physician Brian Tanner.

He’s working at a Lansing area hospital, running into challenging confrontations and fighting off the memories of his own experiences as an abused child.

Tanner’s dealing with many emotional issues at the hospital, particularly when dealing with abused children and their angry parents.

His violent temper is hard to control; his vigilante justice to the parents has little success. Kristin Grey, a social worker with secrets of her own, is able to offer assistance, but there’s no easy solution.

Hazel Tanner, the main character’s adoptive mother, is vital to the plot and makes numerous decisions that will positively affect Tanner’s life. She appears in many flashback scenes that Kesler expertly uses to develop the characters.

Readers who enjoy local settings will appreciate the appearance of local landmarks as well as a memorable CATA bus ride. Kesler’s books, including “Trash Baby” and “The Gift”, are available from the author at

"Public Anatomy” by A. Scott Pearson, (Oceanview, $25.95) is the sequel to his award-winning novel “Rupture” which featured Eli Branch, a hard-working Memphis surgeon.

Branch gets a call for help when Liza French, an associate he hasn’t seen in 10 years, gets into big trouble after a botched robotic surgery is webcast. The patient dies, the hospital has major concerns and the media exposure intensifies.

Soon Branch’s life gets more complicated - hospital medical personnel are murdered, with grim anatomical sketches left at the crime scenes. The body count quickly escalates; Branch discovers information that indicates the murderer is using a 16th century anatomical dissection book as a re-enactment guide.

The last half of the novel cranks up the tension, dealing with assorted ethical issues and grim discoveries; the violent conclusion exposes a clever, deadly scheme.

Readers who appreciate stomach-churning, bloody scenes are likely to appreciate Pearson’s writing talents in this medical thriller. Others may wonder why the police can’t put clues together nearly as fast or as well as the diligent doctor.

 Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, 
has reviewed crime novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on March 4, 2011.

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