The Last High

Daniel Kalla. Simon & Schuster Canada, $16 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-5011-9698-0
A rash of sudden deaths attributable to a potent new street drug plagues Vancouver, British Columbia, in this serviceable medical thriller from Kalla (We All Fall Down). Julie Rees, who has a checkered past, is holding down two vital jobs—senior physician in a hospital emergency room and at the city’s poison control center. Those responsibilities overlap after four unconscious teens are brought in after taking an unknown drug. Desperate to save the life of one brain-dead girl, Rees violates protocol by putting the patient on heart-lung bypass. That choice, influenced by her failure to save the life of a boyfriend years before, leads to an ethical review instigated by a doctor who happens to be the dead boyfriend’s uncle. Meanwhile, she and her lover, Det. Constable Anson Chen, attempt to identify the poison, which is much more toxic than fentanyl, and its source, even as the body count continues to grow. The authenticity that Kalla, himself a Vancouver ER physician, brings to the hospital scenes compensates only in part for the thinly drawn lead. The upbeat closing twist that results from Rees’s ill-advised decision will please some readers and strike others as too pat. Kalla has done better in the past. Agent: Henry Morrison, Henry Morrison Literary. (May)
Reviewed on : 05/08/2020
Release date: 05/12/2020
Genre: Lifestyle
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-9821-5260-4
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