Title: Fatal Intent
Author: Tammy Euliano
Published on: 2 March 2021
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers | Medical Thrillers
Fatal Intent is Tammy Euliano‘s debut novel.
When her elderly patients start dying days after a minor surgery, anesthesiologist Dr. Kate Downey wants to know why. The surgeon in charge, not so much. He believes ‘old people die, that’s what they do’. But Kate is not sure the patients died of ‘old age’, especially when they looked healthy during discharge from the hospital/recovering in the ward post-op.
Jenn, a young resident doctor, is blamed for injuring a patient’s tonsils – this resulted in bleeding and the patient’s condition worsened soon after the operation. Kate does not believe the patient’s condition had something to do with the resident doctor. When Kate questions the surgeon about the dead patients, he complains to the Chief of Staff. Kate is already on probation and cannot afford to have any more complaints against her. It is up to Kate to prove her innocence as well as prove that someone out there is killing patients.
On the familial front, things are not good either. Kate’s husband Greg has been in a coma for the past one year. Kate’s great-aunt Aunt Irm came over to stay with her. One of the famous doctors dies after a minor surgical procedure and Kate talks to his son Christian, she realizes there are more patients out there – all died soon after a minor surgery. There’s one link connecting them all – a medical professional who believes in mercy killing.
What a fantastic debut! The story starts with a usual day in Kate’s life – skipping breakfast, emergency calls at the hospital wards, anesthesia duty at the surgery and so on. She meets Jenn at the surgery; Jenn is an overly enthusiastic resident doctor. The surgery prep includes inserting a tube into the patient’s mouth and Jenn is asked to do it. When Dr. Ricken, the surgeon arrives, he behaves rudely with the rest of the staff, Jenn included. The next morning, Kate learns the patient’s condition worsened overnight and Dr. Ricken blamed Jenn for it.
In a span of one week, three patients, all under Dr. Ricken, have died after a minor surgical procedure. Kate wonders what might have gone wrong and confronts Dr. Ricken about it. Dr. Ricken, in turn, complains of Kate’s accusations to the Chief of Staff. Kate is already on probation and cannot afford to have any more complaints lodged against her. Meanwhile, another resident doctor accuses Kate of harassment and whatnot. Kate already has a lot on her plate – her husband’s declining health, sudden deaths of her patients and now baseless allegations.
Kate decides to investigate this matter on her own. She has the help of Aunt Irm, Jenn and Christian. Christian is the son of a famous doctor who died soon after a minor surgical procedure; any guesses as to who the surgeon was? Dr. Ricken! As Kate comes closer to exposing the perp’s identity, she faces problems at work and threats to her life. But Kate wants to prove her innocence and wants to bring the killer to justice. In the process of finding clues, Kate unravels a scam-of-sorts, the topic being “Should non-responsive patients be kept alive?”
Tammy Euliano has explored a debatable topic here. Should the terminally ill get medical support? Especially when the doctors and family know their rate of survival or recovery is almost nil? What about those who bear the medical expenses? How long can they continue to pay for expensive medical treatments knowing their loved one will never recover or respond to the treatments? Kate has this dilemma too – her husband is in a coma. He will never recover from the trauma and is reduced to a vegetative state. Kate insists on keeping him alive through a feeding tube hoping he will get better some day. How long does one hold on to hope knowing things will never get better?
The mystery behind the murders kept me guessing till the end. Halfway through the story, the identity of the perp is revealed and it is up to Kate and her friends to catch him before more patients die. But this isn’t easy, especially when Kate’s career is on the line. Tammy Euliano is a master storyteller. I certainly hope Tammy continues Dr. Kate Downey’s medical adventures and I would love to see this book as a part of a series.
The only niggle I had with this story is the names of a few characters. James, Jenn, ‘Jack and Jill’, Mick, Mason… I had a hard time remembering who’s who – lots of J’s and M’s.
Fatal Intent by Tammy Euliano is a gripping, engrossing and mind-blowing medical thriller. This is one of the best thrillers I have read this year and I highly recommend it to all mystery and thriller fans.
I received an ARC from Oceanview Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.