In the preface to his book Forbidden Beginnings: Jacqueline’s Tragedy, author William Rubin explains that this stand-alone novel delivers the back story of Chris Ravello, a trauma surgeon who will serve as a protagonist in the already published Forbidden Birth, also published in 2017. This is not a prequel in the way many prequels are, short novels ending with a cliffhanger that entices the reader to buy the next book in the series. This 191-page novel stands on its own and delivers a story with a conclusion. It is not a conclusion I enjoyed. I am not a fan of rainbows appearing over the good ship lollipop while ethereal happy music plays in the background but there is an audience for feel good endings. I am not trying to reveal the ending but I feel comfortable with setting the scene for what is to come.
There is a good story here with more than one serious medical problem examined. Dr. Chris Ravello is plagued with a condition described by a word so long that I still can’t appreciate it. Sufficient to say, it is brought on by stress. He is a trauma surgeon. That should be stressful enough to bring on many attacks. There is a crisis event in which Chris’s mother is attacked and remains in a coma for a long time. More stress for Chris. For the reader, there is an interesting discussion of diagnoses and treatments for coma victims. There is yet another horrible medical problem discussed but that would be a spoiler so I can’t list it here. This novel should interest folks in the medical field: nurses, EMT personnel, and students pursuing medical degrees or certificates.
This is a novel celebrating family values and how those values help people get through different types of crises. I felt it went overboard in this respect and at times I felt I was watching Ozzie and Harriet re-runs. Not all bad because Ozzie and Harriet were popular. There is an audience for this type of sugar-coated, optimistic, all-things-are-possible-if-you-believe world. And except for this rather saccharine view of the world, the story is well told even if at times it is rather slow moving.
Dr. Chris Ravello is a trauma surgeon at the top of his game. The long years of study are finally paying off and he is now in the position to train other doctors. He has enough money to secure a seven-figure mortgage on a dream home. He, his family, and his friends have dinners and get-togethers to congratulate each other on how well they have done and how perfect their world is. This goes on for 33 pages until Chris’s mother is attacked and hospitalized. The race is on to find a method of treatment that will save her life. Another race is on to find out the identities of the attackers so they can either be brought to justice or at least experience vengeance from Ravello and his life long friend, now a detective, Kevin Kennedy. Dr. Ravello feels that there can be other uses for his scalpel other than to save lives.
This moral conflict is played out in the rest of the novel. Is vengeance ever justified? Can good people do bad things if it leads to justice that can not be delivered through strictly legal means? Detective Kennedy and Dr. Ravello will conduct their own investigation in their own way. As an ex-police officer, I could not accept that a senior detective would go so far as to perform an armed assault with a trauma surgeon as a backup. But that is only one of the problems I had with the novel.
If you are looking for a story with a Utopian, rosy picture of the world, try this story. It is well written.