Book Review - TerrO.R. by Joseph J. Neuschatz, M.D.
I was contacted by Joseph J. Neuschatz, M.D. to see if I would be interested in reviewing his novel TerrO.R.. Medical thrillers are always of interest to me, so I accepted. After a quick read (it's not very long), I can say that the premise of the novel is interesting, but it suffers the same problem as many other self-published/print-on-demand books... the lack of a good editor to clean up the writing and shape the story.
To avoid giving away too much of the plot, I won't go into much of it here. Suffice it to say that an anesthesiologist is involved in a case where an apparently healthy young man is undergoing a tattoo removal procedure. While under anesthesia, the patient goes into cardiac arrest and dies. The family sues almost immediately, and the anesthesiologist is devastated as it's his first lawsuit. After some investigation, he discovers a number of other cases that seem to have the same scenario and outcome. He takes it upon himself to try and get to the root of the problem... assuming the deaths were not accidental.
Normally medical thrillers involve surgeons or general practitioners, not anesthesiologists. Neuschatz is himself an anesthesiologist, and you learn quite a bit about the specialty during the story. The plot twist at the end was unusual, and isn't something I've seen or considered before. The major issue with the story is the writing. The conversation between the characters was pretty stilted, and I just couldn't see dialogue between two people playing out as it was written. In addition, many of the surgery scenes, while interesting, didn't have anything to do with the story. Given the book is only 150 pages to begin with, it felt as if a short story was trying to be padded out to novella size for stand-alone publishing. If it had been published by a major publishing house under the guidance of an experienced editor, I think the outcome would have been much better.
If you have the chance to read TerrO.R. and need something to fill a couple of hours, go for it. Just make sure you're not expecting something along the lines of Palmer or Cook.