4 out of 4 stars
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Boston mayor Peter Doyle pushes a multimillion-dollar rebuilding plan through City Council for Boston City Hospital - a public hospital. On the other hand, the government rejects the Academy Hospital’s renovation plan citing over-bedding as the reason. This raises the hackles of Melvin Garrott, Academy Hospital’s director. He colludes with corrupt city officials to turn Doyle’s plan into a profitable scheme that endangers the existence of BCH. Slater Barnes, a young doctor, is diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition, yet he accepts his residency at BCH, one of the country’s most demanding teaching institutions. Meanwhile, a resident medical officer is brutally beaten to death near BCH. Was this a planned murder or a mugging gone wrong? Will this incident affect Barnes?
Days of the Giants by RJ Petrella documents the fictional journey of Slater Barnes, a young doctor, who is willing to risk his life for his beliefs in the field of medicine. The shoddy book cover presents a snapshot of a worn-out brick wall with the symbol of Caduceus superimposed on it. But don’t judge the book by its cover. Set in the politically turbulent world of Boston medicine in the early 1990s, this page-turner consists of 394 pages and is divided into six parts. Since the author himself is a physician and trained at BCH, he draws upon his experiences to lend an authenticity to this book.
Petrella delivers an action-packed and a thought-provoking thriller. It alternates between two point of views - an informal and conversational first-person frame of reference for Slater that gives us a peek into the feelings of this otherwise reticent person. The second perspective - formal in nature - is that of Slater’s deceased father, which helps readers witness the events unknown to Slater. This being the author’s debut novel, I did not get the finesse of literature, but his breezy writing style enthralled me. I could visualize everything - the frenetic pace of the activity on the hospital floors, the hospital surroundings, all the medical paraphernalia, the dilapidated Boston City Hospital structure, and the posh Academy Hospital building and its swanky interiors. Additionally, Petrella created strong and believable characters – they grow organically throughout the course of the story, which is unusual for the mystery/thriller genre.
Apart from Slater, I also liked Don Lindy, an amusing character whom Slater regarded as a brother. I also liked the character of Sofia, a no-nonsense girl who steadfastly supported Slater through all his trials. Due to Petrella’s descriptive writing, I was able to conjure up images of all the doctors, residents, nurses, and patients that Slater meets. Although a few action scenes at the end could have been better described, it does not affect the overall quality of the book.
The awe-inspiring, brilliant doctors at the BCH who go beyond the call of their duty to care for their patients, irrespective of their social status, are the Giants that the title of this book refers to. The only complaint that I had with this book was that there were too many hospital scenes/patient cases which made the story long-winded, especially in the middle. But the pace picked up after Slater decided to stop moping around and took the bull by its horns. As the pieces of the puzzle started coming together, an explosive climax bedazzled me.
Considering the above points, I gladly rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The book was professionally edited as I could find only two minor errors. The medical setting adds another dimension to this action-packed story and does not come in the way of enjoying it. Hence, anyone who is a sucker for thriller and mystery novels can pick up this book, however, the presence of cuss words and murder scenes makes it unsuitable for young readers.
Days of the Giants
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