Something to mull over...

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Forbidden Birth by William Rubin - New Medical Thriller with Potential

Nutshell summary - A doctor-turned-detective is presented with the case of a highly intelligent serial killer who performs medical crimes in the interest of a bigger cause - a breakthrough in modern medicine that could redefine the future of humanity as we know it.

Strengths - Great plot and story line. This is one of the more interesting thrillers I have read recently. The story line is unique and engrossing, and had enough twists and surprises to keep me reading up to the last page.

Weaknesses - Poor character development and stunted writing style.

Character development - As a reference, I will use conventional examples - Alex Cross and Kay Scarpetta. Both of these well-known characters are popular simply because we know so much about them and their characters. As the stories about them progressed, I started feeling what they were feeling, and empathizing with them. I rallied behind their decisions and I felt the weight of the obstacles they were facing.

By comparison, I really don’t know much about Dr. Chris Ravello, the main character in this book. That would have been fine, if there weren’t a lot of decisions and twists that depended on this character (like in the case of DD Warren character by Lisa Gardner). In this book however, there were several jumps in the story that were premised on Dr. Ravello’s decisions. As a reader, I found it hard to follow his line of thinking and ride his emotions. I really don’t know much about him. Maybe if more narrative were given to his history, thoughts, decision-making process and emotions, then I would end up being more connected with him.

Here’s the spin - In contrast, the villain character in the story was well developed. While I do not condone his rationalization and crimes, I believed in his vision, and I understood why he was able to convince himself otherwise that what he was doing was for the common good. I wish the same attention to detail was given to the main character.

Writing style - In my opinion, the constant shifting POV and the timeline jumps contributed to my disconnect with Dr. Ravello. I think the book was written more to mimic a movie timeline, but it was definitely confusing, even from the start. For example, the attention to the life of April, one of the victims, was baffling, given her eventual role in the whole story. The political angle was explained in much detail and chapters early on, and then suddenly dropped. In the later parts, it was also the timeline shift that was baffling (noted by the inclusion of dates in the chapter headings). Was the original draft drastically downsized?

Best part - The best part of the story were the last few chapters. The pace was fast, the excitement was palpable, and the psycho game played by the villain was really sharp. Sadly, when a key character was eliminated in these last chapters, I did not feel anything. It was because I lacked the connection with that character. At the end though, I want to know more about Ravello, and if this is turned into a series, I can see myself reading Book 2.

Conclusion - If you are a fan of medical and police procedural thrillers, then go for it. It is a decent read, and it was exciting. I just want to ground you though, and my comments above are meant to let you know in advance the weaknesses that I noted. This is subjective, so your opinion may be different. At the end of the day, yes, I enjoyed the book.

Available in Amazon.

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