Whistleblowing medical thriller cuts to the quick
Crime: A Handful of Ashes, Rob McCarthy Mulholland Books €15.40
With whistleblowing controversies topping the news agenda here in recent months, Rob McCarthy's second novel A Handful of Ashes is extremely timely. Part detective novel and part medical drama, it features Dr Harry Kent, a sleep-deprived medical examiner with the Metropolitan Police in London, who is called out to certify a suicide.
The dead woman is Susan Bayliss, a trainee heart surgeon recently suspended from her job after publically blowing the whistle on her extremely well-respected boss. Four children died in quick succession after he performed heart surgery on them and Bayliss, convinced negligence was involved, was fighting for answers for the grieving parents.
When Dr Kent discovers that Susan didn't die by suicide, but was actually murdered, he teams up with his ex-girlfriend DCI Frankie Noble to uncover the truth. But, with hospital management stonewalling the investigation at every turn and staff too afraid to speak out, the odds are very much stacked against them.
What follows is a whirlwind journey that darts from one side of London to the other as Kent and Noble try to discover if Bayliss was killed because her theory was right or for another more sinister reason.
Given that the author is a final-year medical student, it's not surprising that the book is filled with extremely detailed medical descriptions.
However, it's written in a very accessible manner and doesn't in any way distract from the story. In fact McCarthy's personal insight lends real authenticity and, while it can be slightly gory at times, I found it very perceptive.
This is the second in the series of Harry Kent novels, but it is perfect as a standalone read.
It does, however, give away a lot of the back story from the first book and, with two more Dr Harry Kent novels and a potential TV drama already in the pipeline, it might be wise to start from the beginning so you can enjoy everything this fresh new voice in crime fiction has to offer.
Sunday Indo Living