M & M: A Vicki Shea Thriller

John A. Peak, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur/Dunne $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-312-27674-4

M and M stands for hospital morbidity and mortality tables in Peak's taut, well-told page-turner featuring doctor-lawyer Shea, last seen in 1999's Mortal Judgments. Pediatrician Vicki Shea is called in when a severely injured infant is rushed to San Francisco's Gunnison Memorial Hospital. The memory of Shea's own brain-damaged baby is still fresh in her mind despite the passage of 20-odd years. The mother says the baby's injuries are the result of a fall, but since the blue marks on both upper arms suggest child abuse, the mother is arrested. Out on bail a few days later, she apparently commits suicide, leaving a note reading "I am so sorry." End of case? No, just the beginning. Vicki joins with San Francisco police detective Tim Murphy to investigate what they soon come to realize is a homicide. Shea comes across as an appealing, brainy protagonist, while the author's sure sense of pace and clinical understatement are other strengths. ("If the [gun] muzzle is held against the flesh, when it's fired it leaves a distinct ring of powder residue concentrated around the edge of the hole like a stencil," Murphy explains for Shea's benefit. "This one had powder residue sprayed all around her mouth. The gun was at least several inches, maybe a foot away from her face when it fired.") And, unlike many contemporary thriller writers, Peak doesn't depend on overdone violence to tighten the screws. (Nov. 11)

Reviewed on: 11/04/2002
Release date: 11/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-0-312-70899-3
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4299-7930-6
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