Saturday, March 16, 2013

Ray's Reviews: Bleeder by Shelby Smoak, Guilt by Jonathan Kellerman and No Place to be Sick by Timothy Sheard

If you're into medical books, here's a quick look at some interesting titles - fact and fiction.

"Bleeder" by Shelby Smoak (Michigan State University Press, $22.95) is an unusual coming-of-age memoir. It examines the many challenges the author faced as a hemophiliac who discovers he tests positive for HIV.

He got the dreaded disease through a blood transfusion in the 1980's; it complicates and changes his life forever.

But this isn't a book full of self-pity; instead it focuses on his desire for survival, the necessity of medical treatment and problems with personal relationships.

It's a carefully crafted, emotional, compelling autobiography by a talented author and poet who's contributed to a variety of magazines and journals.

"No Place to be Sick" by Timothy Sheard (Hardball Press, $15) is the latest in his popular series featuring crime-solving Lenny Moss, a Philadelphia hospital custodian.

Nurses there are alarmed at an increase in the number of patients dying from unexpected cardiac arrests. They suspect a clever serial killer is on the loose. When they relate their suspicions to management, they are rebuffed and threatened with firing.

Moss, a dedicated shop steward, investigates, but he's recovering from a brutal attack and doesn't have his usual enthusiasm. There are other problems too - a conglomerate wants to buy the hospital, privatize it and disband the union.
Sheard has deftly created a highly entertaining tale with a strong cast of characters, a nasty, psychopathic killer and a gritty, surprising ending.

"Guilt" by award-winning author Jonathan Kellerman (Ballantine Books, $28) is the 28th novel in his best-selling series starring Alex Delaware, an experienced psychologist who consults with LA homicide detective Milo Sturgis.

This time they're working on three cases, including the discovery of an infant's skeleton in a box buried 60 years earlier. Other, more recent, children's bones are found in a park near the body of a murdered woman.

While Sturgis and Delaware attempt to solve the crimes, they face a variety of obstructions. Vital information regarding a long-closed hospital is unavailable. Later, the psychologist uses unorthodox methods which provide unexpected results.

Although this is a solid police procedural, it isn't Kellerman's best; it felt like it was padded a bit, bloated to reach a specific page count.

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

Find books by great local authors (and more!)
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent 
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.

Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan

This review was published by the Lansing State Journal on March 17, 2013.

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