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Sledgehammer    by Paulo J. Reyes order for
by Paulo J. Reyes
Order:  USA  Can
Virtual Word, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

ER physician Dr. Max Kroose becomes aware that an unusual number of flu cases are presenting with more symptoms than the flu would warrant. At the same time, he is fighting with the hospital's administration for smallpox vaccinations for his staff. As first responders, they would come into contact with smallpox patients in the event of a pandemic spread by bio-terrorists. To his mind, preparedness is the only sensible approach.

When one of his flu patients dies, Max is convinced he has actually seen a case of smallpox - a dread disease believed to have been eradicated in the world. Kroose's fight to get the vaccine is maddening when the reader realizes the same thing goes on every day when dealing with bureaucrats. The plot is frightening, and the action moves along at a good clip. Dr. Kroose is a very real character torn between love for his motherless children and the obligation he feels he has to prevent worldwide deaths.

The medical terms, I am sure, are correct as the author has twenty-five years of experience in the ER, as well as having been trained as a first responder. For the layman, however, these terms rather overpower the story. It's one thing to hear them on TV where there is always accompanying action to blunt their impact. The abundance of technical terms slowed down the whole plot for me. And the plot is a good one with a real sense of the energy necessary to run an ER. Dr. Reyes is a very knowledgeable man, with a great though terrifying story to tell.

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