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The Inquisitor: A Medical Thriller    by Peter Clement order for
by Peter Clement
Order:  USA  Can
Fawcett, 2005 (2004)

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*   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

ER chief and Vice President, Medical, Dr. Earl Garnett, has his hands full. Not only with the myriad of new patients that continue to get wheeled into the Emergency Room with a variety of complaints, but also with the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic that's been plaguing the halls of St. Paul's hospital for the past few months. Intensive screening and faces covered by filtration masks are now the norm, serving to make edgy patients even more nervous.

Still, Dr. Garnett can handle it. His years of experience and trusted expertise have served him well during the SARS crisis, but when he's accused of being at fault in the death of one of his patients, Dr. Garnett's life takes a sudden and acute turn for the worse. To complicate matters, even more people than usual are dying rapidly in the ward for the terminally ill. Is someone to blame for these sudden, unexplained deaths? Earl thinks so and sets out to prove it, even if it means going against the advice of all his colleagues and finding himself at odds with almost everyone else on the hospital staff.

Despite a terrifying premise, this medical thriller doesn't quite manage to either frighten or captivate. A massive cast of supporting characters complicates the story, as keeping track of everyone becomes practically impossible. While Dr. Garnett is a believable character, those around him seem like mere shells of the positions they're supposed to fill. From the easy-going, handsome hospital chaplain to the brilliant but quick to anger critical care doctor, the secondary characters' lack of clearly defined traits failed to draw me into the story.

Clement clearly knows the medical world inside out, as his descriptions are detailed and vivid. Yet an overabundance of abbreviated terms (unfamiliar to a a casual reader of medical thrillers) detract from the flow. For fans of the medical thriller genre, The Inquisitor will likely prove a choppy read. Those very familiar with the medical field, however, will enjoy the gritty elements Clement is so good at relating.

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