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Jay Barlow leaves a career as a road musician to settle down to a quiet life as a biomedical electronic technician at prestigious Kirkwood Medical Center. While performing a routine inspection on a defibrillator used to shock human hearts into action, Jay receives an electrical jolt that starts a sinister, dangerous and ultimately fatal series of events. After his accident Jay is cared for by pretty ER nurse, Debbie Farrell, who he truly notices for the first time. Jay and his boss, Dan Harris, watch as the Biomedical Department is rocked by a series of mysterious--and potentially lethal--equipment malfunctions. As Jay's romance with Debbie grows, he and Dan begin to suspect deliberate sabotage--but why would anyone booby-trap machines designed to save lives? Jay himself becomes a suspect, and then watches in horror as a fellow technician dies in an accident caused by a faulty machine. When the breakdowns are used as an excuse to close down the entire department, Jay decides he must track down the killer before more innocent people are sacrificed. He suspects everyone, including his best friend, before uncovering the ruthless killer. Finally, he recruits the entire department and other hospital staff in a bizarre, fitting--and very satisfying--plot of revenge.
Review of Kirkwood
"If you want my opinion, electrocution is a lousy way to try and kill yourself," she said softly. The Kirkwood Medical Center is prestigiousjust the kind of place that might entice an ex-musician into taking on the quieter, more lucrative job of being a biomedical electronic technician. But when Jay Barlow's test of a piece of medical equipment lands him in the hospital, it also reveals a series of mysterious malfunctions that lead to a greater mystery involving he and ER nurse Debbie Farrell in both a romance and an investigation.
Readers of medical mystery thrillers will find Kirkwood features strong tension, intricate characterization, and a compelling plot development. The story opens with a bang of recovery from a potentially lethal accident. It keeps a quick pace as readers catch up to Jay's dilemma as he recovers from a terrible shock and tries to avoid the defibrillator that sent him to the ER in the first place. This quickly moves to bigger-picture thinking as Jay investigates what comes to look like deliberate sabotage, navigating both increasing danger and a steadily building romance at the same time.
Readers will enjoy the realistic and action-packed emergencies that permeate Jay's world to keep the story both on track and unpredictable. Tension is delivered in just the right doses, the workplace romance evolves with a realistic approach, and the machines, operations, and atmosphere of the OR and hospital processes are pragmatically portrayed from the first-person insights of a character who has everything to lose and much to gain in the evolution and outcome of his job and life. John Alvah Barnes, Jr. and Naomi Lynn Barnes provide a gripping story of investigations, intrigue, and revenge that takes full advantage of its medical world backdrop to feature a dilemma that involves Jay on more than one level.
Readers looking for a satisfying blend of thriller, mystery, and workplace romance will find all these elements in a story that uses hospital politics and policies to cement an intriguing story of revenge, redemption, and love. Mystery and thriller readers alike, particular libraries that see strong patron interest in Robin Cook-style medical stories, will find Kirkwood a worthy, well-crafted selection.
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review