Heart Failure

Heart Failure

by Richard Mabry


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When her fiancé’s dangerous secrets turn her work upside down, a beautiful doctor must choose between her own safety and the man she loves—and thought she knew.

Dr. Carrie Markham’s heart was broken by the death of her husband two years ago. Now, just as her medical practice is taking off, her fresh engagement to paralegal Adam Davidson seems almost too good to be true . . . until a drive-by shooting leaves Carrie on the floor of his car with glass falling around her.

When he confesses that Adam isn’t his real name and that he fled the witness protection program, Carrie is left with an impossible choice: should she abandon the fiancé she isn’t sure she really knows, or accept his claim of innocence and help him fight back against this faceless menace?

While Carrie struggles to decide whether to follow her heart or her head, the threats against them continue to escalate. Her life—as well as Adam’s—depends on making the right choice . . . and the clock is ticking.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781401687106
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 10/15/2013
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

A retired physician, Dr. Richard Mabry is the author of four critically acclaimed novels of medical suspense. His previous works have been finalists for the Carol Award and Romantic Times Reader’s Choice Award, and have wonthe Selah Award. He is a past Vice-President of American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of the International Thriller Writers. He and his wife live in North Texas.

Read an Excerpt



Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2013 Richard Mabry
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4016-8710-6


ADAM DAVIDSON AND DR. CARRIE MARKHAM STROLLED OUT THE doors of the Starplex Cinema into the warm darkness of the springtime evening. As they made their way through the few cars left on the parking lot, Adam's right hand found Carrie's left. She took it and squeezed, and his heart seemed to skip a beat. His fingers explored until they felt the outline of the diamond ring he'd placed there only a week ago.

She leaned in to briefly rest her head on his shoulder. "I never thought I could be this happy."

"Me either." And if he had his way, this was how it would be for the rest of their lives. Two people in love, enjoying their small-town lives, their only worry what movie to see on their regular Saturday night date.

A loud noise in the distance made them both stop. Then Adam saw a shower of color on the horizon, about where the ballpark would be. "Fireworks show. The Titans must have won." Get a grip, Adam. Stop jumping at every noise. You're safe.

When Adam first met Carrie eight months ago, she was fragile and hurting, as skittish as a baby deer, still bearing the scars from the death of her husband almost two years earlier. Her only interest seemed to be her medical practice. But, little by little, he'd seen her start to smile, to laugh, and eventually to love.

Carrie had restored the smile to Adam's life as well. He still had his own problems, even though he hadn't revealed them to her. He hoped he would never have to. But having her in his life made him certain that the life he now lived, so long as he lived it with her, would be all he ever wanted.

These things were supposed to take time, but in just a few short months each of them had decided that the other was the person needed to fill the hole in their lives. The culmination had come with Adam's proposal and Carrie's acceptance last week. They hadn't set a wedding date yet, but for now Adam was content to watch Carrie plan and bask in the glow of their shared happiness.

The couple reached Adam's car and climbed in, but hadn't yet fastened their seat belts when Carrie said, "I think a chocolate—No, make that a hot fudge sundae." She leaned back in the passenger seat of Adam's little Subaru. "That would ..."

As she was talking Adam saw a dark SUV approach from his right, moving at a snail's pace. When the vehicle was directly in front of Adam's Forester, its side window came down to reveal the glint of light on metal as the driver's hand extended outward.

Adam's next action was reflexive. If he was wrong, he could apologize. But if he was right—He was already moving when he heard the shots.

* * *

The impact of Adam's arm across her shoulder pushed her down until her head was below the level of the car's dashboard. Then Carrie heard it—a flat crack, followed by two more in rapid succession. Muffled thuds sounded above her, and she pictured bullets boring into the headrests at the place where her head and Adam's had been seconds ago. Carrie cringed against an expected shower of glass, but only a few tiny pieces sprinkled down on her.

The faint ringing in her ears after the shots didn't mask the screech of tires and roar of an engine. When the noise subsided, all that remained was the rapid thud of her heartbeat echoing in her ears.

Carrie huddled with her head down, her breath cut off as much by fear as by the pressure of Adam's body atop hers, a human shield. She felt his soft breath in her ear as he whispered, "Are you all right?"

"I ... I think so. How about you?"

"I'm okay." The pressure holding her down lessened. "Stay down until I tell you it's safe." Carrie turned her head to catch a glimpse of Adam peering cautiously over the dashboard.

Her heart threatened to jump out of her chest while her mind wrestled with what just happened. After a seeming eternity, Adam bent down and said in a hushed tone, "I think they've gone. You can sit up."

Carrie raised her head barely enough to peer through the damaged windshield. When nothing moved in her field of vision, she eased upward to perch on the edge of her seat. A few cars were still on the lot of the theater after the last Saturday night show, probably the vehicles of employees closing down for the night. There hadn't been many people in the movie theater.

"Are you sure you're not hurt?" Adam's voice, full of concern, brought Carrie back to the moment. He brushed a bit of glass from her seat with a handkerchief, then tossed it onto the floor of the car.

Carrie unfolded from her crouched position and eased farther onto the seat. "Scared, is all," she said. "You okay?"

"Not a scratch."

He reached across to hug her, and she turned to find shelter in his arms. They stayed that way for a long moment, and the trembling inside her slowly eased. "What ... what was that about?"

"Nothing for you to worry about." Adam's voice and manner were calm, and Carrie felt comforted by his very presence. Then, as suddenly as the turn of a page, he released her and swung around to face forward in the driver's seat. His next words were terse, clipped. "We have to get out of here." He reached for the ignition, key in hand.

"Wait a minute!" Carrie pulled her cell phone from her purse and held it out to him. "We can't leave. We need to call 911."

Adam took her arm, a bit more firmly than necessary, and pushed the phone away. He shook his head. "No!"

She flinched at the negative response and the tone in which Adam delivered it. "Why? Someone shot at us. We should call the police."

Adam's voice was quiet, his words terse. "Look, I don't have time to explain. Let's go."

What's the matter with him? She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Twice she started to speak. Twice she stopped.

Adam turned the key and reached for the gearshift lever.

Carrie saw his jaw clench. She was terrified, but Adam wasn't so much scared as—she searched for the right word—he was cold and determined. The sudden change frightened her. "If this was a drive-by, we need to report it. Maybe the police can catch them before they kill someone."

"Just let me handle this," Adam said. "Right now, let's get out of here. I want you someplace safe."

Although Adam's voice was low, there was an intensity to his words that Carrie had never heard before. "You have to trust me," he said. "There are things you don't know, things that make it dangerous for me to deal with the police right now." He pointed to her seat belt. "Buckle up and let's leave. I'll explain soon."

Carrie wanted to argue, but she could see it was no use. She put away her phone and fastened her seat belt.

The lights on the theater marquee went out. In the distance a siren sounded, faint at first but growing louder. "We're out of here," Adam said. He put the car in gear and eased out of the parking lot, peering through the starred windshield to navigate the dark streets.

Carrie studied Adam as he drove. Most men would be shaking after such a close encounter with death. But he wasn't. Why would that be? Was he used to being shot at? She shook her head. That was plain silly.

She thought she knew him—after all, they were engaged. Carrie glanced at him again. Maybe she didn't know Adam as well as she'd thought. That scared her even more than what they'd just experienced.

They rode in silence for a few moments, and during that time Carrie recreated the shooting in her mind. Then something clicked—something she hadn't realized until then. She turned to Adam. "You pushed me down before the shots were fired. You didn't react to the shots. You knew they were coming."

Adam glanced at her but didn't respond.

Carrie thought about it once more. "I'm sure of it. You shoved me below the dashboard, then I heard three shots. How did you know what was about to happen?"

He continued to peer into the night. "I was backed into the parking space so I had a good view of the cars moving down the aisle in front of us. A black SUV pulled even with us, and the barrel of a pistol came out the driver's side window. That was when I pushed you down."

"Lucky you saw it."

Adam shook his head. "Luck had nothing to do with it. I'm always watching."

His response made her shiver. She hugged herself and sat silent for the balance of the trip.

When they slowed for the turn into Carrie's driveway, Adam said, "Is there room in your garage for my car?"

"I suppose so. Why?"

"I don't want to leave it at the curb or in the driveway where someone can see it. Open the garage and let me pull in. We'll talk once we're safely in your house."

Carrie found the garage remote on her key ring and raised the door. When they were inside the house, with the garage door closed, she took a seat on the living room sofa. Adam went through the small house, drawing drapes, closing blinds, and making sure all the doors and windows were locked.

Finally he returned to where Carrie waited. He started to sit beside her on the sofa, apparently thought better of it, and sank into a chair. "I've wrestled with this all the way home. I thought I was finally safe, but maybe I'm not. I know what I'm going to tell you may change things between us, but you deserve an explanation."

That was the understatement of the year. Thirty minutes ago she and Adam were a newly engaged couple, winding down an enjoyable evening. By now they should be feeding each other ice cream like two lovebirds, talking seriously and making plans about their future together. But instead ... "Yes," she said, "you owe me an explanation, a big one. So explain."

"Let me say this first. What I'm about to tell you started long before I met you. My life has changed in the past eight months. I'm different, and it's because of you. I'm ..." Adam leaned toward her. He clenched and unclenched his fists. "To begin with, Adam Davidson isn't my real name."


"TO BEGIN WITH, ADAM DAVIDSON ISN'T MY REAL NAME." IT seemed to Adam as though all the air went out of the room as soon as those words were out of his mouth.

Carrie took a deep breath. "What do you mean?"

Adam swallowed ... hard. Then, like a diver finally deciding to plunge off the high board, he said, "My real name is Keith Branson. I'm on the run. If the wrong people find me, I'm a dead man." He swallowed again. "I hope and pray I'm wrong, but what happened tonight may mean they've found me."

He watched emotions trace across Carrie's face like words running across an electronic billboard: puzzlement, dis belief, fear, anger. The ache in his heart grew with every passing second.

He'd thought maybe he'd finally found safety. He'd hoped he'd never have to share this information with her. But his hopes were dashed when the bullets flew through the windshield. Maybe he'd never be safe. And now he'd brought Carrie into it. He had to tell her, no matter the cost to their relationship. He loved her too much to let her keep believing the lie.

"What have you done? Are you running from the police?" She almost shouted the next words. "What's going on?"

"Long story," Adam said. "First, I'm not running from the police. But I'm not who you think I am either. I'm not a para legal, although I'm working as one. I'm a lawyer, and I'm running away from some very bad men—men who want to kill me."

"If you're hiding from criminals, wouldn't the police protect you?"

"Maybe, maybe not. But that would mean letting them know my real identity. And no matter how the police may try to keep it confidential, somehow that information is going to leak out. It has before. If it reaches the wrong ears ... I'm dead." He shook his head. "Of course, it may already be too late."

The color drained from Carrie's face. She snatched a ragged breath. In a low voice she said, "Let me get this straight. You're telling me you're living here under a false identity. But it's not because you've done anything wrong."

"Right, I—"

Carrie continued as though Adam hadn't spoken. "When you didn't want to call the police after someone shot at us, I thought maybe you had a bunch of unpaid tickets, unpaid alimony, something like that." Her voice rose with every word. "But now you tell me you're hiding from someone who might kill you?"

"Yes," he said. "Now can I explain?"

"Go ahead. I want to know everything, Adam. Or should I call you Keith?" She clenched her fists. "Or is there another name for me to learn?"

He took a deep breath through his nose, let it out through his mouth. Repeated the process. Be calm. You fouled up, but maybe you can salvage things. "Please, call me Adam. I came here for a fresh start, and that's when I became Adam. That's when I met you. That's when I fell in love with you."

"If you're in love with me, why didn't you tell me the truth?" Carrie lowered her voice to a quiet tone that pierced Adam's heart more than any shout could. "Why did you—no, why did we almost have to die before you told me about your past? Why did it take a shooting to make you tell me that everything I know about you is a lie?"

"When I first met you, I told you the same story I'd told before, in so many other places. It had become a habit, a way of life for me. Then when we got to know each other, after we fell in love, I didn't want to spoil things by telling you the truth." His mouth was dry, his throat threatened to close off his words, but he didn't want to interrupt his story by asking for water. "I was wrong to keep all this from you. I admit it. I've been agonizing since you accepted my proposal, wondering when and how I'd break the news to you."

For a moment Adam couldn't read her expression. Then her words removed any doubt. She was hurt—hurt deeply. "And you think now is the time?"

"What happened tonight may mean that the people who've been hunting me for so long have found me." He looked down. "I'm sorry I waited, but I have to tell you the truth now. I love you too much to keep it a secret any longer."

"You say you love me, yet you hid your past from me. It took a shooting to change your mind. That doesn't sound like love to me."

Adam felt like one of the early Christians, the ones whose limbs were tied to horses that literally pulled them apart. "I admit it. I've put off doing this. I was afraid, because telling you who I am ..." He took a deep breath, then another. There was a catch in his voice when he spoke again. "I love you, Carrie. More than I've loved anyone in my life."

Carrie hugged herself like a woman trapped in a deep freeze. "So what happened tonight? Was someone trying to kill you?"

"I can't be totally sure. Maybe someone's found me, maybe it was a random drive-by shooting. But I know one thing for sure. If my true identity gets out, even in the most innocent fashion, Charlie DeLuca will find me and try to kill me ... and you too, once he discovers that I love you."

Carrie's expression shifted from puzzled to terrified. "So just being with you puts my life in danger?" She almost whispered the next words. "How could you do this to me? Were you using me? Did being part of a couple let you blend in to the population?"

"No! Absolutely not."

Carrie turned away from him and stared at the opposite wall. "What are you going to do next?"

"Tomorrow morning I'll call the police and tell them I found my car parked at the curb with three bullet holes in the windshield. I'll do my best to make them believe this was a case of malicious mischief. I can't have them digging too deeply into my identity. Because if they do, I might as well pack up and get out of town."

Her back still to Adam, Carrie said, "What if the police want to talk to me about the shooting?"

"They won't. Not if I tell it the way I've described." Adam rose and began pacing. "Believe me, more than anything I want to keep you out of this."

Carrie spun to face Adam. When she spoke, her tone was cold. "I think you'd better go."

Adam stood, then stopped. "Carrie, I'm really sorry. I hope you can forgive me." He looked directly into Carrie's eyes. "I meant the things I said when I proposed. I still mean them. I love you."

For Adam time froze as Carrie stared, first at him, then at the ring on her finger, then back at him. Finally she put both hands in front of her, and Adam's heart dropped when he saw the twisting motion she made.

"Carrie, please don't—"

She took two steps toward him and held out her hand, the engagement ring in her open palm. "I don't know what to think right now. But it doesn't seem right for me to keep wearing this. I don't know whether I love you, or fear you, or feel sorry for you, or ... I don't know." She shook her head. Tears streaked her cheeks.

Excerpted from HEART FAILURE by RICHARD L. MABRY. Copyright © 2013 Richard Mabry. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Heart Failure 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please bn, do something with these plot spoilers who consistently reveal every detail of the book, then brag how they got their book for free for their so cslled honest and unbiased review. It is not honest or unbiased nor is it a review when it is a reveal of the entire plot line. The rest of us have to buy our copy of the book, and we do not like these no good plot spoilers ruining the book for us. Please cant you do something about this?????
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book hooked me from the first page. Wow! What an opening. This medical suspense/love story is one of the best. I have read several  of Dr. Mabry's books and they are all good. They are clean and captivating. I like the suspense most. Just when I thought I had figured it out it changed directions and I followed clearly and without regret. This is one I will read again. 
Smilingsally More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this Christian fiction suspense novel. The characters are believable, and the plot is fast-paced. There's just enough connection between Carrie and Adam for those who would choose a romance novel. Suspense kept this reader turning the pages. I finished the book in two days. The ending came as a surprise to me. The fact that the author is a physician helps the medical parts come alive. I liked learning medical school tidbits like "When you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras" (137) when diagnosing a patient. I know that I'm not fully explaining it here, but when you get the book, you'll see for yourself the wisdom in this statement. The book is almost perfect. The second paragraph on page 114, Carrie has a "d" on the end of her name. A simple mistake, but a jarring one. Nonetheless, I highly recommend this book. Includes Reading Group Guide. Thank you to Booksneeze and Thomas Nelson Publishing for my copy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A Great Read Dr. Mabry brings his medical background into a lively and entertaining suspense/mystery novel. I have read all his books and enjoyed every one of them. If you want cursing and depravity go elsewhere.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book! Great plot and characters! Very PG. But I enjoyed the story, it was a good read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All of Richard L. Mabry's books are brilliant...if you've not read his works before and you like mystery set in the medical world, then this is a must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When reading this book the term "corny"comes to mind. Even one of the main characters laughed at himself once. Even so, this was a quick, entertaining escape for me. I couldn't guess the ending, and that's a sign of a good book. I also could appreciate the Christian references.
JanOK More than 1 year ago
I like the author's writing cadence. Storyline flows nicely, and keeps you guessing. I plan to buy more of his books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book.the author was new to me but kept me guessing as to who the killer was,I liked the way it showed how God always cares for us.showed the human side of life.Will definately want to read more by this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed reading. Second book I've read by this author and I really enjoy his stories
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love suspenseful stories that leave you guessing to the very end. A very good book!
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They just dont work. Mystery romance christian hospital just becomes a muddle neither one or the other pass unless a freebie
4smom0 More than 1 year ago
I have read almost all of Dr. Mabry books and he quickly has become one of my favorite authors,  I had no doubt that I would enjoy this book and I was not let down at all.  Dr. Carrie Markham never thought she would fall in love again after the death of her husband.  Two years later she finds herself in love and happier than she though was possible.  Adam Davidson has a big secret that he has not shared with his new fiancé Carrie.   Within the first few pages, you will be hooked---Carrie and Adam are leaving the local theater and next thing you there is an attempt on their lives with a drive-by shooting. Adam realizes that he must tell Carrie his secret.  Adam is not his real name, he is really Keith Branson and that he is on the run as some very bad people are trying to kill him so he had been placed in the witness protection program.  Carrie is hurt as she is no longer sure who she is engaged to and calls the engagement off.  After agreeing to talk with 'Adam', Carrie knows that deep down she really does love him and puts the engagement on hold while they figure out things.  Little did Carrie know that they would have to deal with more life threatening situation since the drive-by that started the roller coaster when Adam revealed his true identity.  This story has it all--suspense, romance, action, lots of twist, a great plot. Both the main characters are very believable and I found myself rooting for them to make it through everything and to be able to have their very own happily ever after with each other. This story reminds us that The Lord is in control of everything and to never give up your faith in him.  Dr. Mabry does a wonderful job of telling the medical.  He does not use medical jargon that most people do not understand.  Instead he explains things in layman's  term so as you are reading you have an understanding as to what something is.  When I read my first book by him, Code Blue, #1 in the prescription for trouble series, I knew that I had read more this author.  I think with his background in medicine and his style of writing, that he does an incredible job of explaining things to those not in the medical field.  For anyone who is looking for an great clean suspenseful medical book with some romance--this is your book.  You will not be let down.  Medical suspense books are one of my top genre go to books after reading Dr. Mabry books.  I want to and look forward to reading a lot more by him.  His books are ones that I have recommended to many other people.  Disclosure:  I was given a copy of this book by the author.  In return I am giving my honest, unbiased review.
KBHyde More than 1 year ago
Richard Mabry can always be counted on to produce a fast-paced, page-turning medical thriller with believable characters and settings, authentic medical detail, and lots of heart (plus a little bit of baseball). He's done it again with Heart Failure. Themes of love and loss, faith and doubt, revenge and forgiveness give this gripping read a deeper, satisfying significance.
sharon1JT More than 1 year ago
Really boring. Didn't finish the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't bother. The praying in the book comes at strange times, not necessary. Too many characters from Chicago who come to live in this small Texas town. Really?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do not waste your time. Christian influence is forced and unrealistic. Plot can be guessed early on.
Milakegirl More than 1 year ago
Preachy, boring and stupid. I don't want a detailed description of why some random guy is in heart failure, and the incredibly boring work days in the clinic were totally unnecessary to the story. The only thing that makes this a Christian novel was the characters constantly saying they need to pray about... Whatever. This had nothing to do with faith or Christianity. And constantly having people who want to talk or meet with the main characters and put off until later (to try to build suspense?), did NOT work for this story. It was stupid.  This story could have been told better in about half the length.