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Posted March 1, 2007
A thriller debut that will blow you away
It's an exciting feeling when a debut novel appears out of nowhere and dazzles you with such strong writing and storytelling that you can't believe the author has never done this before. That's the case with Philip Hawley, Jr.'s 'Stigma,' one of the best debut thrillers I've read in a long time. Hawley is a pediatrician in Los Angeles, so naturally his main character, Luke McKenna, is, too. McKenna is also a former Navy SEAL and a real tough guy. The plot starts off with a bang when a boy from Guatemala is rushed into McKenna's emergency room and dies a mysterious death. The doctor begins to investigate what really happened, and discovers a plot involving high-tech science and low-grade greed. You expect a book like 'Stigma' to have wall-to-wall action and suspense. And it does. What might surprise you is that this is also a smart book, one that makes you think while entertaining you. 'Stigma' probes interesting ethical questions about the role of technology in medicine, and the ages-old dilemma of where we draw the boundaries of medical science. For a first novel in particular, 'Stigma' shows tremendous polish and poise. If this book is any indication of the kind of talent Hawley possesses, it won't be long before he ascends to the top ranks of thriller authors. Fans of Michael Crichton or James Rollins in particular will find much here to enjoy.
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Posted July 8, 2008
Non-stop action, much of it associated with medical research and experiments. The book begins with an attempted kidnapping to keep medical secrets regarding malaria vaccines to treat various types of malaria through animals and humans. Tests that ran astray, and ended up killing many, were out there and this young boy couldn't be allowed to be seen by medical professionals. While examining a suspected young female child abuse case, Dr. Luke McKenna had a dying young boy from Guatemala brought to the emergency room of University Children¿s Hospital in Los Angeles. Were his hands full? As Luke was tied up with the abuse victim, another resident attended to the boy. The young boy was never supposed to have made it that far but rather be taken and hidden or killed so no one could see what was going on in this child¿s body. Megan Callahan was a third-year pediatric resident at Children¿s Hospital and was the first to examine the young Guatemalan child. Megan was also an ex-romantic associate of Luke¿s. Megan had planned a trip to a clinic in Guatemala to distance herself from Luke and she was anxious to get on her way, but this boy from the very nation to which she was going gave her increased interest. An examination of the boy showed his blood counts off the wall as well as everything in his body. The boy didn¿t make it despite all the work Megan and her associates did to save him. A huge muscled man ran into the emergency room and demanded to see his wife and child (the suspected abuse victim). He was an NFL player in very good physical shape and he flaunted that condition as he tried to force his way into the examining rooms. At that time, Luke happened to be busily moving through and even though he was a smaller man, he was in good shape and was determined to stop this forceful man pushing his way through anyone in the ER. Luke tussled with him and even though Luke was hurting after the engagement, the football player was in worse shape. Luke then continued on to the area where Megan was examining the Guatemalan boy. He just stood in the background and let her finish her work. The football player eventually filed a suit against Luke and the hospital, but that¿s another part of the story. Have I piqued your interest in reading an excellent book? The above part of the book, while very intriguing, is but a small part of the action that flows from the jungles of Guatemala, research laboratories in Guatemala and Los Angeles, intense police work in Los Angeles, to the almost impossible task of finding out who to believe and trust in all of the above areas. The story is very plausible and makes the reader think of such an experiment going awry in today¿s highly technical and medical world. Some groups force experiments before they are ready for humans and ¿Stigma¿s¿ author, Philip Hawley, Jr. makes this case in a superb story.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
At the University Children¿s Hospital in California, a Guatemalan Mayan child dies in the emergency room in spite of pediatric Dr. Luke McKenna's efforts to save the boy. Luke is confused as the child¿s illness is unknown to him. However, he is stunned when Guatemalan officials abetted by hospital administrators take the young corpse away before he can perform the required postmortem exam.----------------- However, the former SEAL is not one to ignore a mystery so he continues to ask questions, which leads to killers needing to silence him. They do that by cleverly framing him for the murders of a former girlfriend and a football player, which energizes Luke further to exonerate himself while learning the entire truth. On the lam, he realizes he must go to Guatemala to find out what killed the child, not realizing the horror that awaits him if he can stay alive with thugs trying to kill him and elude the law as cops want him arrested for the two homicides.----------------- This action-packed medical thriller grips the audience from the onset and never slows down until the final confrontation. The fast-paced story line is fun to follow as the hero uses his military training to endure his ordeal although the strain on his mind is enormous as horrible memories from those days in uniform engulf and albeit endanger him. Though the climax seems weak, readers will want to run along side McKenna as he struggles to survive and uncover the truth.---------- Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 26, 2009
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