4 out of 4 stars
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The Surgeon’s Wife by William H. Coles is a dramatic tale of two surgeons caught up in a maelstrom of friendship, deceit and grave mistakes.
The 200-page novel features Mike Boudreaux, the chief of surgery at a hospital in New Orleans. When his mentor and professor, renowned surgeon Clayton Otherson, makes a mistake at the operating table, Mike has to take over for him to avoid the death of the patient. When it turns out that this is not Clayton’s first serious error during obesity surgery, other doctors want Mike to stop Clayton from operating any further.
However, things are not as easy as they seem. Mike rose to his position due to Clayton’s monetary and influential support over the years. Clayton is one of the most powerful surgeons in the country, and he alone has brought more paying customers to the hospital than other doctors put together. And let’s face it; Mike and Clayton are dear friends. But Mike is also an honest person who has to put the patients’ welfare above all else, even if it means destroying Clayton and their friendship while doing so. When Clayton does lose a patient during a next surgery, Mike knows that things have gone too far. Clayton must stop operating right away. This pushes Clayton to some very reckless acts and drives a wedge between Clayton and his wife, Catherine, as well.
I picked up this book because I love medical mysteries and thrillers. For a while, I even had flashbacks of reading one of Robin Cook’s older books involving malpractice, the death of patients, and a deadly mystery surrounding the hospital. Yet, The Surgeon’s Wife is more a dark drama involving a decaying friendship and a romantic triangle, with some well-fleshed out characters that we learn to care about quite early in the book. Mike is an honest guy who wants to do right by everybody. But he can’t make everyone happy; someone’s got to lose. Catherine is a complex character who is enjoying the upper lifestyle her husband's wealth and status offer her. Still, Catherine is not merely a spoiled trophy wife; she has a mind of her own and her own accomplishments as well. Those, however, are buried under a veil of sexism by her husband’s peers. Even though she has done much for the establishment, Catherine will always remain the “Surgeon’s Wife” for everyone else.
The story flows smoothly and, even though the book is quite short, the author has created some really engaging characters. It seems that William H. Coles has a knack for writing strongly developed characters that drive the plot forward.
Also, the storyline touches on some serious moral and ethical issues at workplace surrounding doctors and hospitals. The book resonated with me at a deeper level. My own mother, at the age of 45, had two serious surgeries that destroyed her health entirely, and later on, it turned out that those surgeries were superfluous because her problem was somewhere else. She never fully recovered, but whom to sue after all that time?
My only slight gripe with the book involves the romance that became a love triangle. Without spoiling too much, it developed too suddenly in the second part of the story after the first half not even hinting that there was an attraction between the two characters. It just felt a bit too rushed. Nevertheless, this didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book at all.
The writing style is top notch. I haven’t found any major grammatical errors in the book, which means that it is professionally edited. I rate it 4 out of 4 stars and can warmly recommend it to anyone who loves novels with good character-driven plots that manage to invoke many strong emotions and feelings in the reader.
The Surgeon’s Wife
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