Pinnacle, Dec 2003, 6.99, 384 pp.
In Duvall, Louisiana, Dr. Jack Harris, working the night shift of the emergency room, treats a battered but tough teenage girl Shannon Willis. Before he can finish with her, a wounded cop near death arrives. Rural ER is limited so Jack tries to keep the officer alive so that he can be air lifted to New Orleans. The other cop Sergeant Gillis has wounds that are not life threatening. Gillis drafts Jack to serve as the coroner because the man who shot the cops is dead. The deceased is Jack's boss Doc Saban. Meanwhile Shannon fled during the chaos.
Jack sees Shannon on the street. He buys her a meal and gets her a motel room. He promises to return in the morning, but the next day she is missing and the police suspect Jack had sex with her and killed her. They wonder if Jack is tied to Saban's apparent illegal activities and a narcotics ring that target high school students. Jack realizes he must prove his innocence because the circumstantial evidence allows the police to have no reason to look at anyone else.
LETHAL RISK is an excellent amateur sleuth tale that uses elements of a medical thriller (the spotlight on rural ER is fascinating as the bottom line is more important than saving lives) and police procedural (assume guilty unless proven innocent) as its underpinnings. The story line moves forward rather quickly from the first taste of ER bedlam to Jack learning a lesson about what happens to the good intentions of a Good Samaritan. Jack is the heart of a solid tale that fans will value highly.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner