Genre City Review: Diagnosis Death
Title: Diagnosis Death
Author: Dr. Richard L. Mabry
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Genre: Medical Suspense
Release date: April 2011
Reviewed by: Donn Taylor
The plot moves smoothly through increasingly complex situations into a satisfying climax and resolution.
Elena Gardner’s comatose husband died in ICU while on life support. In an emotional state, Elena, a resident at the hospital, violates protocol and ethics by signing the Do Not Resuscitate order herself.
Questioned, she admits she doesn’t know if she turned off the respirator. Her guilt and self-doubt increase when she receives the wordless midnight phone calls of a sobbing woman. Suspicion against her mounts when a similar death happens to a comatose patient to whom she had access. So Elena is “graduated” early into a temporary position away in a small town.
In the new location, the phone calls continue and other harassments are added, culminating in the death of another comatose patient in circumstances throwing suspicion on Elena. Clearly, someone intends to destroy her. Yet, something within Elena keeps her from defending herself.
In Diagnosis Death, Dr. Mabry improves upon his fine performance in Code Blue, presenting us with an exemplary page-turning suspense novel. The medical suspense situations are gripping, but they also maintain good balance between medical terminology and explanations for nonprofessionals. Characters are believable and well motivated, and Christian themes are woven into the plot rather than grafted on.
Dr. Mabry engages readers with well-turned phrases: A small man’s desk “appeared to be large enough to require its own zip code,” and “Elena worried the thought like a cat with a ball of yarn.” A receptionist can’t “make coffee that doesn’t taste like it’s brewed from homogenized tire treads.” And the plot moves smoothly through increasingly complex situations into a satisfying climax and resolution. These qualities, and many others, make Diagnosis Death as good a CBA suspense novel as I have read.