Critical Conditions

Critical Conditions

3.6 13
by Stephen White, Dick Hill
     
 

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Alan Gregory is called to the ICU before anyone knows the patient's name or what dark demons drove her to attempt suicide. But fifteen-year-old Merritt Strait is no ordinary depressed teenager. The daughter of a hard-charging investigative reporter and a psychologist, she is also the stepsister of a little girl at the heart of a medical tragedy in the making. While… See more details below

Overview

Alan Gregory is called to the ICU before anyone knows the patient's name or what dark demons drove her to attempt suicide. But fifteen-year-old Merritt Strait is no ordinary depressed teenager. The daughter of a hard-charging investigative reporter and a psychologist, she is also the stepsister of a little girl at the heart of a medical tragedy in the making. While Merritt clings to life in her hospital room, Chaney Strait lies near death in another hospital with an infection that is slowly destroying her heart. Denied an experimental new treatment that could save her life by the Straits' managed-care provider, Chaney has become a symbol of a health care system driven by costs, not care. And Alan believes that somewhere along the way, Merritt has gotten lost in all the media attention surrounding her younger sibling. But as Merritt begins to recover, yet still refuses to speak, Alan suspects that something else may lie behind her suicide attempt. Then a wealthy executive of the family's HMO is found dead ... and Alan and Denver detective Sam Purdy uncover shocking evidence that links Merritt to his death. With his wife, Boulder County D.A. Lauren Crowder, away helping out her ailing mother at the risk of her own fragile health, Alan must sort through the most complex and elusive case of his career, along with his own feelings of loneliness, anger, and helplessness.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Psychologist Alan Gregory is brought in to evaluate 15-year-old Merritt Strait after her attempted suicide. The teenager has had a complicated life: her stepsister is dying from a heart ailment that might be helped by an experimental treatment, but that treatment isn't covered by the family's HMO. When the head of said evil HMO is shot and killed, the evidence points toward Merritt as the prime suspect. Alan, along with his police friend (and Merritt's uncle), Sam Purdy, begin an investigation that will expose blackmail, extortion and dark family secrets. The usually reliable Dick Hill gives a disappointing performance; his overall delivery is so low-key and measured that he doesn't bring the energy necessary to spark this thriller to life. A Signet paperback. (July)
Library Journal
In his sixth suspense novel, White (Remote Control, LJ 1/97) and his protagonist psychologist Alan Gregory take on managed healthcare and come up with another compulsive read. A 15-year-old girl attempts suicide and turns mute, her two-year-old sister is dying from a rare disease while her health insurer won't pay for expensive experimental treatment, and the doctor who heads the insurance company is found shot to death. While Gregory treats the teenager and consults with police, his cop friend Sam Purdy (an in-law of principals in the case) has to keep his distance, and complications mount. White ties up all the loose ends, concerning death threats, blackmail, murder, extortion, and suicide, after a spine-tingling chase through the conveyor system of the new Denver airport. But he leaves strings dangling regarding his appealing cast of continuing characters (such as Gregory's wife Lauren's health and neighbor Adrienne's love life), guaranteeing anticipation for number seven. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/97.]Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., Va.
Kirkus Reviews
Boulder psychologist Alan Gregory confronts a hapless family's mismanaged-care nightmare, in White's overstuffed sixth thriller. The toddler of Alan's newly transplanted colleague, John Trent, has been stricken with a rare strain of viral myocarditis for which MedExcel, the family's HMO, refuses the only available treatment as too experimental; meanwhile, his wife, TV news personality Brenda Strait, is being harassed by threats and vandalism. As their daughter Chaney lies dying for lack of funds, Trent wonders how much worse things could get. Here's how much: Brenda's daughter Merritt, 15, tries to kill herself, gets dragged back to life refusing to speak, and turns out to be hiding a handgun and a bloody outfit that tie her to the murder of Dr. Edward Robilio, the founder and chairman of MedExcel. Assigned to Merritt's case, Alan finds crippling new connections among the characters at every turn. His cop friend Sam Purdy is the brother-in-law Brenda's been feuding with for years. Dr. Terence Gusman, who chairs the medical exam review board at MedExcel, is the brother of a woman fatally traumatized by Brenda's hard-nosed reporting. Even Alan's urologist neighbor Adrienne, who's been sleeping with the Trent/Strait's lawyer, thinks she prefers the lawyer's wife. As he rolls like a fifth wheel from one crime scene to the next and struggles to get his mute patient to open up—even after she starts to talk, her shocking, predictable revelations are delayed by a series of shameless ploys—Alan goggles at the unholy network of lovers, codependents, and betrayers. The result is that White (Remote Control, 1997, etc.) loses his initial focus on the indictment of uncaring HMOs; bythe time you stumble to the center of this labyrinth, you're amazed that the medical community can lift a finger to help this dysfunctional community.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781480562844
Publisher:
Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
09/01/2013
Series:
Alan Gregory Series, #6
Edition description:
Unabridged
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.10(h) x 1.50(d)

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Larry King
A can't-miss read.

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