Dr. Alex Taylor is a young and dedicated doctor heading for a stellar career in emergency medicine.
When she finds herself regaining consciousness whilst naked and strapped to an operating table with an unrecognisable, gowned up surgeon towering over her, she fears that she’s been in a terrible accident that she doesn’t remember. Very soon she realises that something is very wrong as the person standing by the table begins to threaten her with a terrifying procedure that she very definitely doesn’t want or need.
What the hell is going on? How did she get on the table? Who is behind the mask?
She is asked a question that she doesn’t quite understand. She goes under again and when she awakens in the emergency room with a few bumps and bruises, she quickly realises that the ER staff don’t know what has happened to her. She tries to tell them what happened, and that she may have been harmed, perhaps even raped, but they look at her oddly and tell her that she’s had a bump on the head and been found unconscious in the hospital grounds. There’s no suggestion of any foul play, or indeed, any of the things she’s talking about. Perhaps that bump was a little harder than they thought?
The police are notified, and they don’t see any evidence of anything that Alex claims. They look into it half-heartedly, but she can tell they think she’s a bit crazy. There are references to something that happened a year or so before, and also the fact that on the day of Alex’s ordeal, the ER lost a child patient – something they think may have sent Alex over the edge and into the realms of delusional behaviour.
Even Alex’s successful and charming fiancé doesn’t really believe her, and if he’s honest, is quite embarrassed by the whole event, not least her erratic behaviour – she is drinking way too much and even, on occasion, going into work drunk – and insistence that she was attacked. Her colleagues start to avoid her and she hears whispers as she walks down the halls of the hospital.
Then a nurse goes missing. When she turns up in hospital she says something to Alex in the ER that makes Alex think that the same nutcase who got her is responsible for the attack on this woman. When other people start to die too, Alex becomes of interest to the police as a suspect, and she has to try and figure out who is behind this reign of terror before her job and her life are irrevocably damaged.
There are lots of false twists and turns in this tale and much as I enjoyed it, I did guess who the culprit was and just couldn’t figure out quite why they were doing what they were. When it was revealed, it was a little disappointing because it seemed a tad far-fetched, but there was still a good deal of suspense and I wasn’t quite sure how it was all going to end. The dynamic between Alex and her fiancé was cleverly observed, but I felt the police officers to be a little stilted and stereotypical – the determined young female officer portrayed as a power-hungry, dismissive bitch and the comfortable older male cop finding himself entranced by the young, successful surgeon.
This is an clever, fast-paced thriller with a nightmare premise – waking up naked, strapped to an operating table has to be one of the scariest things you can imagine, especially if you’re not meant to be there and you don’t know who is preparing to operate on you! Throw in a healthy dash of psychological suspense, some confusing plot twists and you’ve got a pretty good thriller. I think this is Liz Lawler’s first novel, but you certainly can’t tell from her writing style – I am definitely looking forward to reading her next book!
Thanks to the author, Bonnier Zaffre and Netgalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.