Dr Elena Gardner is a physician in fear, after the death of her husband on ICU a series of phone calls accuses her of performing a mercy killing. When the deaths continue, and Dr Gardner cannot remember where she was when the deaths occurred, rumours start to spread. Is Dr Gardner killing patients or is someone trying to set her up?
Slow to start, the pace picks up quickly and the story is beautifully crafted to ensure that there is suspense at every turn, and a ever-present sense of danger and disaster. This makes it a page-turner, and means that it is very easy to read, despite at times an odd-writing style and over-zealous medical exposition. The medical exposition, whilst at times a bit much, is as well-researched and believable as you would expect given Mabry’s medical background. Mabry also avoids the common mistake in many who-dunits of making the plot to easy to guess, and as such it keeps you guessing right till the end.
There was a very strong Christian theme running throughout the book, as well as a romantic sub-plot. The latter makes this a more cozy/happy thriller than most, and whilst the former does not detract from the reading experience for me, it could put off some readers, and should be considered. The story would have worked just as well without the Christian element, but I do understand that the author is staying true to his own beliefs.
Being the third book in the series, I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to follow the plot without reading the previous two instalments, thankfully this wasn’t the case and Diagnosis Death works perfectly as a stand-alone novel. The reason why the real killer was committing the crimes was not adequately explained, and this left me feeling slightly frustrated at the end. As I have yet to read the other books in the series I do not know if the motive was implied in the previous novel.
Overall an exciting read, with dollops of suspense, and a creative and intriguing plot. It is a bit frustrating that the killer’s motives are not more satisfactorily explained, and for some hardened genre fans the romance may be a bit much. The Christian theme is strong but does not distract the reader from the plot. I will definitely be keeping an eye on Mabry in the future.
Diagnosis Death is available from Amazon UK for £7.86 and from Amazon US for $12.76.
[An review copy was provided by Abingdon Press]