Young doctor Gina Panzella has known her boss, plastic surgeon Dr. Duncan Lathram, almost her entire life, and respects him deeply. Charming and brilliant, Duncan has invented a dissolving implant that allows incisions to heal without scarring. Duncan's artistry in the operation room is the salvationof Washington's biggest power players whenever they need touch-ups for C-Span. But there are a few things about Duncan that Gina can't quite figure out. Why did he trade vascular surgery for the more profitable but less vital plastic surgery, and why won't he accept his patients' medical insurance? What caused his daughter's death and the breakup of his marriage? Why do his tirades agains the new congressional medical ethics committee have such a bitter personal sting? And what is his connection to two committee members who died in accidents not long after Duncan operated on them?Soon Gina's curiosity about Duncanis replaced by suspicion and fear. With the help of Gerry Canney, a high school classmate now working for the FBI, Gina determines to find out what ruined Duncan's personal life and aroused his wrath against the congressmen.
In this taut, battle-of-wits medical thriller that turns on vengeance, members of a joint congressional committee investigating medical ethics are dying as quickly as Bill Clinton's health-care reforms, through apparent suicide, disease or accident�and each of the deceased has been operated on by top plastic surgeon Duncan Lathram. Beautiful resident Gina Panzella, who works for Lathram, has complete faith in her boss until, with the help of an old schoolmate turned FBI agent, she investigates the surgeon's past and discovers a motive for vengeance, as well as a diabolically clever method for murder. Wilson, a practicing physician whose fiction has recently shifted from traditional horror (The Keep) to medical terror (The Select), paces the revelations masterfully and uses character and dialogue to boost what could have been a routine mad-doctor yarn into a gripping cat-and-mouse game between his heroine and his villain. One off-note mars the narrative: Lathram's habit of using obscure words, which sometimes makes him sound like W.C. Fields (``Gina, my dear cygnet... how could you?''). Otherwise, this is a smart, exciting tale that's given added dimension by Wilson's investing the villain with a righteous cause for his maniacal behavior. The author leaves little doubt that the congressmen marked for death are the real blackhearts here, and so at times readers may find themselves rooting for the homicidal Lathram as much as for his opponents. Wilson doesn't make too much of this, though; he's apparently too professional to dam the river while he muddies the waters a little, and too conscientious to shortchange his story by simplifying the complicated issues it raises. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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June 30, 2010
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Excerpt from Implant by F. Paul Wilson
1 GINA nbsp; nbsp; “still flat-lined,” someone said. I know that, dammit, Gina Panzella thought as she stared helplessly at the monitor, willing the featureless thread of light to show systole, even a muscular twitch. It ignored her. Nothing but a little sixty-cycle interference marred its placid, unwavering course. The sick sour smell of death filled the air and the three nurses who made up the Code Blue team were watching her expectantly, waiting for her to admit the obvious. All right, she told herself. Call it off. She sighed. “No use. He’s not coming back.” The nurses nodded and began repacking their gear into the crash cart. Gina stepped back and took one final look at Mr. Nussbaum’s pale, bloated, naked, lifeless, fifty-two-year-old body. His limbs were splayed, a ribbed plastic tube protruded from his slack mouth, wires strayed from plastic patches from his slack mouth, wires strayed from plastic under his right clavicle. He’d had a laparoscopic cholecystectomy yesterday, and he’d come through just fine. Tonight—this morning actually, at 3:05 or thereabours—he’d gone into cardiac arrest and a code had sounded. None of the staff cardiologists had been in the hospital, and no way could one of them arrive in time, so Gina, as house doctor, had run the code. The team had already slipped the board under Nussbaum’s back and started CPR by the time she arrived. Gina had intubated him, then under her direction the team worked on him for forty minutes. She threw everything they had at Mr. Nussbaum: intracardiac injections, repeated defibrillation, the works. Everything short of cracking his chest and squeezing the heart with her hands. Nothing. The Nussbaum heart had decided to quit and nothing she tried could change its mind. “Good code, Doc,” said Judy Hooper, giving Gina’s shoulder a squeeze. She was tall, thin, with a halo of bushy blond hair around her angular face; late thirties—maybe ten years older than Gina—and a veteran of more codes than Gina ever hoped to see. “Not so good,” Gina said, cocking her head toward Mr. Nussbaum. “He’s going to the cooler instead of the CCU.” “You gave him every chance. Ten to one the post will show a major PE. Not much you can do about that.” Gina nodded. These obese patients, when they arrested like this, usually it was due to a pulmonary embolism—a big clot shooting to the lung from somewhere in the leg. All the drugs and electric shocks in the world couldn’t clear a clogged pulmonary artery. “Good working with you,” Judy said, then went back to unhooking Mr. Nussbaum. Yeah, Gina thought. Real good. She hoped her skin never got as thick as Hooper’s seemed to be. Then again, in Hooper’s position a thick skin was probably essential for survival. Gina felt her tense muscles begin to uncoil in the dimly lit silence and antiseptic tang of the hallway. She was halfway to the elevator when a young nurse approached her. She had short red hair, bad skin, and a considerable overbite. Her badge saidT. Graves, RN. “Dr. Panzella, would you mind very much taking a look at an IV in 307?” “Where’s the IV team?” “Well…” She nervously rubbed her hands together. “I’m it on this shift, and I can’t seem to…” The nurse seemed terrified of her. “Let’s take a look.” “Oh, thank you!” She led Gina down the hall to her right. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this.” “No biggee.&