Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Oxygen-Carol Wiley Cassella

Carol Wiley Cassella
Simon & Schuster, Jul 2008, $25.00
ISBN: 1416556109

Seattle anesthesiologist Dr. Marie Heaton has no time grieve the death of an eight-year-old patient Jolene in the operating room as the family filed a malpractice suit. The endless meetings with her lawyer and those of the other interested parties leave Marie thinking back on her life while everyone awaits the critical results of the autopsy.

Having never married or had children Marie wonders if she erred focusing on medicine; however observing her sister’s family fight and fuss makes her also realize she does not miss combat of that sort. Still estrange from her dad, he feels for him as he is going blind. Her best friend and former lover Joe Hillary seems to want more from her although he insists he is only trying to help her through the death and its aftermath. Finally there is lawsuit that seems to increasingly focus on the anesthesiologist.

This is a strong medical thriller that digs deep into the uglier side of the health field enabling the readers to see a ghastly bottom line. The investigation into the child’s death is filled with twists as the aftermath of the tragedy leaves a previously confident Marie doubting her skills and that of her associates and worried about the finances if she loses in court. Her relationship with her dad adds depth to understanding Marie. Readers will be hooked from the moment Dr. Heaton meets Jolene and thinks something is not quite right and never slows down until the final conceivable stunning spin.

Harriet Klausner