To the Bone
Neil McMahon
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To the Bone

Neil McMahon
256 pages
September 2003
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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To The Bone is a fast-paced medical thriller, third in a series featuring Dr. Carroll Monks. Neil McMahon is a no-nonsense writer. He does not bother with fluff. He keeps his chapters taut and gripping. He forces reader to focus on two things: one, caring about the characters; two, the unyielding plot.

Monks is an emergency room doctor at San Fran's Mercy Hospital. Day in and day out he sees it all. However, when a beautiful dying woman is raced in to the ER, Monks struggles to ascertain the problem as he works to save her life. Though he recognizes what might be killing the woman, it is immediately apparent it is too late to rectify the ailment. Young Eden Hale dies.

If it isn't bad enough to lose a patient, Monks' split-second decision-making process is called into question. The hospital plans to launch an investigation. They need to answer some basic questions. Was Monks negligent? Did he correctly identify the problem? Did he follow procedure to fix the problem he had identified?

Monks, feeling that the hospital's investigation was not fair enough, decides to conduct one of his own. He is not convinced that the woman's death was accidental. In fact, he is confident that she might have been murdered. Without having much to go in, Monks starts with the physician who had performed breast implant surgery on the victim just the previous day. He begins to piece together the colorful past of Eden Hale.

Hale worked in the porn industry, managed by a sleazy guy she'd known since high school. She was trying to get into professional modeling—and working with D'Anton would open doors. She was also having an affair with D'Anton's wife, a self-proclaimed artist who chiseled replicas of beautiful models out of stone.

Dr. D'Anton is one of California's most prestigious surgeons. He dedicates his time to making wealthy, famous and powerful women beautiful. He is also a major financial source for Mercy Hospital. So when Monks shows up questioning D'Anton's practice, the cosmetic surgeon does not hesitate letting Mercy know just how annoyed he is with Monks.

Determined to get to the bottom of Hale's death, Monks disregards hospital warnings and continues to dig for answers. He teams up with private investigator, Stover Larrabee—a likable retired San Fran Police Department character. Together they gather enough substantial evidence to point them toward possible suspects.

To The Bone is a tightly plotted thriller with some personably crafted characters. There are enough twists and turns and intriguing scenes to keep the reader turning pages without wanting to risk taking a break. The downside is not starting at the beginning of the series. However, going back and reading the two before this latest Carroll Monks adventure is exactly what I plan to do.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Phillip Tomasso III, 2004

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