Heartfelt review for Coma Confidential:
Swept by his excitement, Mrs. Komarov gets to her feet and hurries out the door to join the others, leaving me behind. On her way out she says, over her shoulder, “You, stay put. I need you to come up with a solution. Work on it like your life depends on it.”
I do. First—as soon as she turns her back to me—a quick change of cloths. I take off Linda’s shoes because by now my feet are killing me and remove the black skirt because it’s a bit tight. I look good in my spandex leggings, if I say so myself.
Then I smooth down the side of the skirt, sliding my hand into the pocket and grabbing the matchbook. Nearly all of its matches are gone. Only a single one is left. I’ll have to make it count.
With trembling fingers, I tear it out of the matchbook and strike it against the rough narrow strip. It doesn’t ignite. I strike again, approach the wastebasket, which is set in the corner behind the toilet, and throw it there, burning.
The flame is flimsy, at first.
For a while, I believe it has been extinguished. The match has sunk out of sight and disappeared under the dirty tissues. Then, a subtle glow appears. A little tongue of fire starts licking, touching a corner of a tissue here, an edge there, slithering across the mess, consuming it hungrily.
Once the fire starts blazing through the wastebasket itself, I carry the flaming thing, set it under the desk, heap in handfuls of the oldest billing complaints, and hurry out the door. I close it shut behind me and, with a little cheer, join the others in their impromptu celebration.
Soon, all of us will feel the heat.
(Volume IV of Ash Suspense Thrillers with a Dash of Romance)
~Colleen Mooney, Author and Audible listener
The death of his wife is something I can investigate later, on my own. No need to talk about it with him. Instead, I ask, “Have you ever pretended to be a doctor?”
He seems to stall. “You mean, as a child?”
“No,” I say. “As an adult.”
“I’ve heard of others who have.”
I raise an eyebrow. “I thought it would be impossible to get away with such a dangerous form of bluffing.”
“You’d hope so, wouldn’t you,” he says. “Frankly, I met so many qualified doctors with perfect credentials who are dangerous.”
Is he avoiding the topic by trying to distract me with a slightly different one?
“Perfect credentials can fool you,” he says. “I know that from experience.”
“Tell me about it.”
“You sure? I don’t want to bore you—”
“Oh, you won’t.”
“Well,” he says, slowly drawing out the word till it turns into a sigh. “Take for example the case of someone I used to know—no names, you understand—who removed a healthy kidney during what was supposed to be colon surgery. He had to give up his medical license in North Carolina, only to continue practicing in another state.”
“Really? Can he do that?”
“Really. Then in Michigan, he removed his patient’s fallopian tube. According to the medical board records, he mistook it to be her appendix. More surgeries on the woman followed, including one in which he allegedly left her intestine unconnected. Facing state sanctions, he surrendered his license there, too, and has moved to Ohio, where his medical license is still in effect.”
I shake my head, utterly in dismay. “Someone should have reported him.”
Dr. Patel takes a long gulp of water. Then he picks up his dinner napkin, wipes his lips, and dabs the corners of his mouth over and again. Finally, he admits, “I made the mistake of doing just that.”
“Really? You did?”
“I was a senior resident back then, he—the attending surgeon. Knowing I was right, I didn’t hesitate to defy authority. In hind sight, that was a mistake.”
“Oh, I’m impressed!”
“Don’t be,” he says, curtly. “The administration of the hospital fired me at once, because by calling the State Medical Board I went outside the departmental Quality Assurance process. They had been looking for an excuse to get rid of me, and this was their chance. Citing behavioral problems, they slammed the door in my face.”
“Oh no, Dr. Patel!”
“Please,” he says. “Call me Neil.”
“Neil,” I say, this time in a warmer tone. “Somehow or other, you managed to come around and establish a highly successful career.”
He chortles behind his hand, a bit too heartily. Maybe he’s trying to hide the reddening of his face. “I learned the hard way that whistleblowing is frowned upon. Don’t tell anyone I was guilty of it.”
We laugh, which gives me the courage to go back to my first question. “So? Have you ever pretended to be a doctor?”
He casts an evasive look at me, or maybe it just seems that way, because of the candlelight flickering in his pupils.
And even though we haven’t eaten our meal yet, even though it’s still in the process of being cooked, he skips ahead to ask, out of order, “So? What would you like for dessert?”
He wipes his mouth again and at once, the smile is gone. “What I can give you is this: I find a delicious irony in the idea that an impostor can be better than the real thing.”
“The idea of a pretending to be a healer may sound tantalizing,” I say. “But when I go under the knife, the one holding it should be a real professional.”
“You mean, someone who is not pretending.”
“Exactly. Someone who pledged to do no harm.”
★ Love Suspense? Prepare to be thrilled ★
(Volume III of Ash Suspense Thrillers with a Dash of Romance)
Months after recovering from coma, Ash discovers that the man who performed her brain surgery has a questionable medical experience and a dark past. Should she expose him, at the risk of becoming vulnerable to his revenge?
This is a fantastic medical mystery! So mysterious. I stayed up all night listening! I couldn't sleep until it was over. The narrator WAS the voice of Ash! Her narration was spot on. I felt her fear. Her doubt. Her questions. Her frustration. Her humor. Her pain.
~Becky, Audible Listener
My time alone with Michael is about to come to an end.
No doubt, Michael knows it, too. In a blink, he brushes his lips over mine, ever so lightly. It is then that something wondrous begins to happen. I don’t mean the memory of our first kiss, although that moment—framed with autumn leaves aflame all around us—is a great marvel, too.
The wondrous thing is something else entirely. It’s this sensation—oh, how do I describe it? A tingle, an itch?—down there, in my left foot. To be more precise, it’s in my pinky toe.
Oh wow! I can move it!
“Goodbye,” says Michael in his softest voice, backing away.
Oh no, don’t go! Not now, I beg him in my heart. With renewed urgency, I move my pinky toe again, praying I could leap over somehow and stop him in his tracks. With him gone, how will I ever learn what he meant by taking responsibility for the crime?
Meanwhile, with a sigh of relief, Ma takes his place by my side. She strokes my hand, which I can’t move, and kisses my brow right over my eyes, which I can’t open to save my life.
“Dear,” she begs, just as before, “give me some signal, will you?”
How can I tell her where to look, where to find my response, when she focuses on the wrong end?
Moving my pinky toe is far from enough. I must do more. I must learn to kick.
(Volume I of Ash Suspense Thrillers with a Dash of Romance)
Ash finds herself in the ER diagnosed with coma. She has no memory of what has happened to her, but what she can do--despite what everyone around her might think--is listen to the conversations of her visitors. Will she survive the power outage in the hospital and then, being kidnapped out of it?
A week after my arrival at Camp Lejeune, the heat and humidity were such that I longed for the good old days, I mean, the days of perspiration and exhaustion back in Cape Upton’s mess hall.
It was on Christmas day that I got a letter, which had been mailed there and redirected to reach me here. At first glance I thought it must have been a mistake, which irked me to the point of discarding it, almost. No one but my father had ever written to me—but the penmanship could not have been his. My name was drawn in an unfamiliar, flowing calligraphic style. The envelope looked quite different from the ones he would send, and so did the stamps.
Dad would pay extra money to get the word INSURED printed prominently on the envelope in bold, capital letters. Invariably he would use stamps that featured famous Americans, each of whom was centered, rather formally, in a fancy, decorative portrait frame. I came to expect the usual lineup: a 2 cents stamp of Whistler, the artist, followed by a 2 cents stamp of Hopkins, an educator, a 2 cents stamp of Long, a scientist, a 2 cents stamp of Whittier, a poet, a 2 cent stamp of Cooper, an author, and a 2 cents stamp of Morse, an inventor. Forming a row at the top of the envelope, each one of these high and mighty characters seemed to have my father’s eyes, which gave me a sense of trepidation, of fear to find myself a failure.
In a blink they might look down their noses at me and shake their heads ever so slightly, as if to say, “See? He’s chosen us as for a reason, setting us as a model before you. Think, Lenny! Think what you’re going to become! Plan your future! Do it now!”
But on this envelope, the postage was different. I used to collect stamps, and was surprised to see two identical, large, square ones that I had long wanted to get. Valued at 5 cents, they were posted one under the other, featuring the same image: a romantic drawing of a woman named Virginia Dare, whose life, according to popular folklore, was a mystery.
Having read about her I knew that her grandfather had returned to England in 1587 to seek fresh supplies and upon his return three years later, she had vanished without a trace. She was drawn holding a small bundle, which on second inspection looked like a baby. In the background was the pitched roof of a home. The image was lovely, but had no personal meaning, I thought, none at all. If not for the rarity of these stamps, I would have assumed that they must have been chosen completely at random. Even so, my curiosity awakened.
I flipped the envelope to its other side and thought I caught a whiff of perfume. I could not believe who the letter was from not only at first glance but also at the second and third, and had to rub my eyes to make sure I was not dreaming, not misreading the sender’s name. Written in meticulous handwriting, there it was, her name and no other: Natasha Horowitz.
This, I thought, must have been someone’s idea of a practical joke, but on the unlikely chance that it wasn’t I decided to open the envelope with the utmost care. Hoping to insert some tool and rock it gently up and down till the glue gave way, I looked at the corner of the flap, searching for an opening, no matter how small. But no, there was none. The envelope was completely sealed.
★ Love reading? Treat yourself to a love story ★