Shadows Behind a Screen

Andrew Puckett, Author, Pickett, Author Minotaur Books $20.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-312-20586-7
How far will a vengeful man go to get even with his rival? That question looms over Puckett's seventh novel. British medical scientists Harry Benedict and Richard Kelso have had a long-standing feud ever since Harry stole Richard's girlfriend, who bore Harry a son and died in a car accident shortly afterwards. The scientists' falling-out has divided their Dorset hospital's personnel into two camps. When Harry's one-year-old son, Peter, is admitted for an ear abscess, the boy's condition quickly deteriorates and he dies. Believing that Richard caused Peter's death by falsifying his lab results, Harry murders Richard in a fit of rage. Although the facts look cut and dried, Department of Health Inspector Tom Jones, last seen in Puckett's Ladies of the Vale, has been asked to check the hospital's computer system to see if the erroneous information could have been input by someone other than Richard. What he finds is a snarl of hatreds and slights that he must untangle in order to discover who sabotaged the boy's treatment. As Tom questions doctors and nurses, he is confused to find that Richard was well liked while the beleaguered Harry, a notorious womanizer, has several enemies; then a revelation about the dead boy's parentage twists his investigation in an unexpected direction. Puckett, who has worked as in several hospitals, depicts the medical world's social hierarchies, struggling residents and in-house rivalries with authentic realism. Even so, and although the plot of his new is chilling, his stiff dialogue and emphasis on computer glitches and medical treatments gives much of the narrative a mechanical feel. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/28/1999
Release date: 07/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 280 pages - 978-1-84583-900-0
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