Trauma by Michael Palmer and Daniel Palmer

Trauma, by Michael Palmer and Daniel Palmer
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (381 pgs)
Rated: 4 Stars
Review by Snapdragon

Dr. Carrie Bryant’s four years as a neurosurgical resident at White Memorial Hospital have earned her the respect and admiration from peers and staff alike. When given the chance of performing her first unsupervised brain surgery, Carrie jumps at the opportunity.
What should have been a routine, hours long operation, turns horribly wrong and jeopardizes her patient’s life. Emotionally and physically drained, Carrie is rushed back to the OR to assist in a second surgery. There, she makes a careless and tragic mental error resulting in irreparable brain damage to her second patient. With her confidence shattered, Carrie quits her residency and moves back home where her younger brother, Adam, a combat vet suffering from debilitating PTSD, also lives.

When Carrie learns about an experimental program at the VA Medical Center exploring the use of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) that could forever cure the emotional and memory trauma of PTSD, it seems like a way back into medicine. Carrie is apprehensive, but a chance meeting with David Hoffman, a reporter for the Lowell Observer writing a story on PTSD, helps her overcome any hesitation.

Her first surgery appears to be a success until her patient mysteriously vanishes. When a second patient also goes missing, Carrie employees the investigative skills of David, and together they descend into a labyrinth of murder and corruption. And the price Carrie might pay for asking the wrong questions could be her life.

Neurosurgeon Carrie Bryant is considered competent and compassionate–but that compassion, that empathy for her patients, might be her biggest challenge. When things go wrong in one surgery, her self-esteem takes a beating.

In running from this one disaster, she charges into something far more sinister. That darkness exists is a given, but through the compelling story of veteran Steve Abington, with his life on the streets and gradual, increasing sinking toward violence, we discover the value of Bryant’s work. And more: for although this has elements of personal growth story, it is in a far more complex framework.

In her familiar home locale, Dr. Bryant goes back to work, but things, somehow, inexplicably, go wrong. Suddenly, she’s not investigating a medical issue, but a horrific crime. (More than one!) No spoilers here: the investigation carries this story, although there are other good points.

This medical thriller is very character-driven, holds reader’s attention well, and does not wallow in so much medical jargon as to become incomprehensible. I also really enjoyed some of the light, accurate descriptions of different places; from the familiar old type of coffee shop that isn’t a slick new drive-up, but has seats near a fireplace, a look at Hopkinton (near Boston) and up the coast of Maine, as well. I’d hope for a little less predictability, overall.

Mystery and thriller readers will find a lot to like here.

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