cover image The Queen of Hearts

The Queen of Hearts

Kimmery Martin. Berkley, $26 (352p) ISBN 978-0-399-58505-0

Martin’s debut novel is a medical drama about two friends facing the secrets of their past after the reappearance of the man who broke one of their hearts. Zadie Anson, a pediatric cardiologist, and Emma Colley, a surgeon, live in Charlotte, N.C., and have been friends since college, maintaining their relationship through the ups and downs of parenting young children and working in demanding careers. Nick Xenokostas, who was Zadie and Emma’s chief resident when they were in medical school, moves to Charlotte and joins Emma’s surgical practice. Flashbacks from their alternate points of view reveal events of the year when Zadie and Nick had a brief, tumultuous affair, including the secrets from that year that Emma has kept from Zadie, which could destroy their friendship. With Nick’s reappearance, Emma fears that he might tell Zadie some disturbing truths. Meanwhile, she must weather professional angst when a difficult surgery ends badly, leaving her career in jeopardy. Emotional and difficult to put down, Martin’s excellent story of friendship is shrewdly plotted and contains a cast of flawed, rich, believable characters. The realistic and vivid medical angle (Martin is an ER doctor) adds to the novel’s appeal. Agent: Jane Dystel, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Feb.)