13 January 2014

Review: Second Chance by David Perry

Second Chance tells the story of Alex Benedict, a devoted husband and hospital pharmacists who ends up getting dragged into a hunt for clues to find the most sought after drug in the world – the elixir of life. Alex has a personal reason to want to find it, as his wife is terminally ill in hospital.

It took me several months of trying to read Second Chance before getting past the first few chapters, as the story is not that gripping to begin with. It does soon pick up, and becomes very readable from around the 60% mark. I did enjoy reading it, although it’s not a book I’d read again given that I now know the plot.

I did feel that Second Chance was slightly let down by some plot weaknesses. For example, it’s never properly explained (as far as I remember) why the IV bag samples didn't yield the ingredients uses in the drug. The clues to find the hidden formula seem to be very easy to decode, and nothing seems to be too difficult, be that getting a plane or accessing documents after-hours. Due to that, there was a lack of real threat. The most believable moment is ‘the’ scene near the end of the book, where Benedict truly comes alive as a character.

The story also wasn't helped by a rather large cast of characters, some who are introduced near the start of the book, only to disappear till the end. This left me racking my brains trying to figure out who they were and what they had to do with everything.

Overall Second Chance is a decent mystery, but not one that I’d like to re-read. It is available from Amazon UK for £8.23, and from Amazon US for $13.57.

[Review copy provided by NetGalley]

6 January 2014

Review: Country Doctor: Tales of a Rural GP by Michael Sparrow

Country Doctor is a collection of anecdotes about the life of a former Air Force medic turned country GP - Michael Sparrow. It follows in the footsteps of books like Sick Notes and Confessions of a GP, the primary difference in this case is that the doctor in question has had a rather dubious background for a GP; he is someone who openly admits to being less than academically gifted and admits to neglecting his duties whilst a student/house officer.

The book was enjoyable to read, and there were moments when I literally laughed aloud. The anecdotes in the most part are interesting and entertaining but I found three things hindered my enjoyment of the book. First, the title is misleading. Just a fraction of the book is actually set when the author is a country GP, the vast majority focusing on his early career and time in the Air Force. For me this was immensely disappointing as it was not the collection of interesting stories about interesting people, and good old fashioned village spirit, I had imagined it to be.

The next issue for me was the underlying vibe of the author saying "Look how great I am". Whilst on the surface the author says he wasn't that good a medical student or junior doctor, there is a definite vibe of "I'm better than you" throughout, which quickly got wearing such as when the author basically turns around and said that his tutor could see just how amazing a doctor he was, that they 'helped' him through his exams. Lastly, some of the 'true' stories recounted in the book are questionable. If they did indeed happen, then some of the events where at best unethical.

Overall I found Country Doctor to be a easy, humorous read but for the reasons outlined above I have given it a three star rating, although at only 99p currently, you cannot go too wrong.

Country Doctor is available from Amazon UK for 99p and from Amazon US for $1.63.
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