Under the Knife: Kelly Parsons
Aren’t we all subject to error and mistakes? Some are costly and might injure others and yet some are just mistakes that are often covered up and disappear. Is there anyone in this world that is truly infallible? Is there anyone totally exempt from error, poor choices and judgments? Certain professions require a system of checks and balances to make sure that procedures rendered on people or the public are not tainted with fraud, errors or mistakes. Yet somehow no one is immune to these as you never know when someone will create a situation, unknowingly to you that might cause you to take steps that will cost you more than just your reputation but your entire life. When a doctor performs surgery on a patient they are putting their life in the hands of someone who is supposed to be skilled and the outcome will be positive. What happens when it’s not is the core and basis of this novel when Dr. Rita Wu operated on Jenny Finney for a routine appendectomy done laparoscopic and finds herself about to enter a nightmare that she might not wake up from.
Forgiveness is not always an option when someone dies on the operating table. Dr. Rita Wu drank too much before operating on Jenny Finney and the result was tragic. Morton Finney decided he was going to take aim at her and destroy her life, sanity and career one step at a time. Methodically, carefully and skillfully enlisting the aid of a man named Sebastian who was hungry for money and technologically brilliant the two devised a plan to take her down. Waking up in the same OR that she operated on the patient in disarray, disoriented and found by a nurse on staff, this was just the start of her downfall because little did she know she was about to enter an Alfred Hitchcock movie, Stephen King novel and her own version of Gaslight. Imagine what would happen if unknowingly someone planted a device in your left ear, undetected by radiographic machines and gave the person who implanted it the ability to control your mind, thoughts and actions. What would you do if you heard the voice of this person directing you to do things that are despicable, dangerous and might cost another life? What would you do if you tried to explain what happened to you and why you won’t up in the OR with no memory of how you got there and not one believed you?
As the novel progresses we meet Rita’s sister Darcy named after Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Imagine finding out that this same megalomaniac planted the same device in her ear but hers was a bomb waiting to explode and take her life. Darcy had a bad childhood, often on drugs, quitting school and hooking up with the wrong people. With her inheritance from her late parents she managed to snort, sniff and drink her way through most of the money and then finding herself on Rita’s doorstep.
Dr. Chase Montgomery was excited about a new pilot auto surgeon program that Dr. Wu was chosen to operate on the first person using Delores the Auto Surgeon and hopefully showing how this robot could successfully handle a simple operation without failing. Failsaves were in place and standard procedures implemented but the surgery would evidentially be in the hands of a robot. But, first Dr. Wu had to deal with the fallout of her embarrassing situation and the fact that there was a serious cover-up after the death of Jenny Finney. Things spiral out of control as Dr. Montgomery takes a group of visiting dignitaries, media, press, and doctors on a tour of the soon to be new operating theater and then allowed them to attend the first auto surgeon operation. Not everyone is certain that this might work but Finney decided to test drive his program and the implant in her brain by speaking to Rita, controlling her thoughts and actions and causing her to do things that she would never ever think to do. While trying to convince herself that she should not operate, Finney was adamant that she had to convince Chase that she should. He had his own plan in mind and with the help of Sebastian who most of the time could hear what he was saying and going to do except when losing feed, Rita Wu would never be the same again if it is up to Finney. Tormenting her, threats, hidden innuendos and mind control actions, Rita Wu began wondering what was really happening to her until he told her. The implant behind her ear could not be seen, removed or found he said on any radiograph or MRI and she was now you might say his own slave to do whatever he wished until the final outcome or the final plot he devised in this sick drama or play that was about to raise the curtain on the first act.
Mrs. Sanchez was the patient that was going to have gallbladder surgery and the first to be operated on by Delores. With some fancy talk and convincing Chase was going to allow her to operate but would postpone if a few hours until she could gather herself, straighten her appearance and focus on the task at hand. Seeing the patient beforehand and promising she would be okay when you enter the operating theater, see all the observers and learn what happens you might never want to enter an operating room again. Gallbladder is not a serious surgery as I know from firsthand experience but every surgery has risks and no matter how confident you are in the surgeon to be honest mine was not a robot. Not sure how I would feel if a robot had taken gaully the gallbladder instead of my surgeon. But, things start out okay and the auto surgeon seems to be responding the right way but the system would not allow it to take completely take over and checks and balances were in place. But, Finney was happy on top of the world and when the surgery begins all goes well until Rita does something out of her control, listens to what Finney says and although she rebels, resists for a time, Sebastian turns up the juice on the device in her head and what happens next will horrify you and brought someone else into action. Will Mrs. Sanchez survive and what will happen to Rita? As Chase calls her in and she is suspended, winds up in the very hospital she operated in, and drugs, alcohol and other substances were found in her bloodstream, something triggers her even more yet no one believes her innocence. Enter Spencer Cameron, neurologist and neurosurgeon who managed to bring things under control in the operating room but could not stop what happened to Rita nor did he want to get involved again with her. The author shares their relationship, why it did not work out and you the reader must decide if you agree with the final result.
As the rest of the story unfolds and we hear the voices of the staff, the concerns of Chase and Rita is suspended with pay, we wonder just what Finney has in mind for his final scene and just what Sebastian will do. Sebastian is torn between following the path that has been set out for him knowing it will help his niece and nephew have a better future and his sister too. But, what about Rita and as he states often: When did I become one of the bad guys? As you hear his voice and realize that he too has been programmed but in a different way you begin to realize that Sebastian is smart, clever and his goal to outfox Finney but can he? Finney is crazy yet at times the reader might feel sympathy for him due to the cause of his wife’s death. Do you think Rita Wu should have been completely cleared since she was not fully sober during the surgery? Why would they cover it up? What would have happened if they postponed the operation for a while? Finney overhears everything and when he realizes that his plan might not be implemented right away he has Sebastian turn up the juice in Rita’s brain and she seems like she is about to be fried. Things spiral out of control and for some reason unknown to her she is driven to operate on Mrs. Sanchez. As the operation is finally rescheduled and the theater is filled with observers no one realizes that two extras are present. As a media person and Sebastian pretending to work for a promotional firm, no one realizes that some of what is about to happen has been scripted and orchestrated by two dangerous men. The operation starts out okay but when Rita receives the final instruction to harm the patient she is conflicted but in the end you can imagine who wins. As Chase can no longer cover for her and her attitude and demeanor questionable just how does she wind up in the hospital in need of critical care? With nurses monitoring her and wanting Spencer to come and see her when he does what she tries to relate makes him wonder if she does not have a mental disorder. But, a simple slip of the tongue about something in her left ear and the results of an MRI alerts Spencer to want to delve further and with the help of his friend Raz some of the pieces of the puzzle might be filled in.
A touch of compassion and a wrong move puts Rita in danger and face to face with the killer. What he has in mind is frightening and the end result might mean a tragic ending for one doctor as another risks it all to put an end to what this man started? Moral values, issues and ethics are at the heart of this outstanding medical thriller as you the reader must decide after reading the events, hearing the voices of Rita, Finney and Sebastian if you think justice was served.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine ‘