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Dr. Knox (Hardcover)
I have low tolerance for main characters who have to do the dumb thing to keep the story going – you know, the people who have to keep poking at the devil, the people who have to open that door behind which evil lurks. You want to scream at them to STOP IT!
I had thought with a sinking feeling that Peter Spiegelman’s new book was falling into this trap until I realized he’d turned it on its head.
Adam Knox, the doctor at the center of his new thriller, runs a medical clinic in a LA neighborhood that deals with everything from sexual diseases to gunshots, from the flu to horrors of bad hygiene. He and his crew see it all and do their best to deal effectively with it all. At some point, they all understand they’re just holding off the collapse of their world.
One day a woman comes in with a young boy who can’t breathe. It’s relatively minor – a reaction to a peanut – but the woman runs off and Dr. Knox decides to go one step further. And that step takes him and his staff into the crosshairs of two different and dangerous factions who want the boy and the woman.
“Bray wasn’t handing down law just then, but listening to a man’s voice from a phone speaker. I couldn’t make out the words, but the voice was pleading and desperate, which seemed to make Bray angry. His jaw was rigid, and his large mottled hands clutched at each other. His own replies were curt and chilly – ice on a windowpane. His words too were lost to me, but his scorn hung like a fog in the air.”
So what is it that saves Dr. Knox from being the irritating sort of story where carelessness keeps the story moving? Knox is a danger junkie. He lost his repuation working in a hospital in war-torn Africa, he now works in a dangerous part of the city where the people he’s trying to help are often violent, he earns extra money administering to those – the rich and famous – who can’t go to a hospital, and he keeps risking his own skin, as well as his staff, by continuing to dig into the background of these strangers, this boy and woman. Why? Not only does he need to be the savior, I think he also needs the tickle of danger to feel alive. And that makes him an interesting and dangerous character – as those factions will discover.
Knox has a friend who watches out for him, a soldier of fortune/security expert, named Sutter, a guy he got to know in Africa. They’re two sides of a coin, though Sutter is himself more dangerous than Knox: “You forgot. You took things for granted. You climbed up so high you thought there was no more gravity. You thought you were immune. I get that – it’s a very human thing. But tonight I’m gravity’s representative…”
This is said to be the start of a series. It’ll be interesting to see where he takes Adam Knox – and us.
I’ve read and enjoyed all of Spiegelman’s books. You will, too. They’re in the Hammett/Block school of noir, with spare writing, unique characters, and surprising plots. He won the Shamus Award for Best first novel and he’s not lost a step.
Read him!— JB
Peter Spiegelman sDr. Knoxis a bruised wonder of a crime novel. Filled with page-turning intrigue and an L.A. atmosphere so richly rendered you can practically smell the eucalyptus and dust, it is both thrilling and rueful, harrowing and moving. DON'T MISS IT
Megan Abbott, award-winning author ofThe Fever
From the author of Red Cat and Thick as Thieves: a gripping new thriller about a medical doctor with a powerful humanitarian impulse, an unhealthy appetite for risk, and a knack for finding himself between a rock and a hard place.
Adam Knox comes from a long line of patrician Connecticut doctors a line he broke to serve with an NGO in the war-torn Central African Republic. His attempt to protect his patients there from a brutal militia ended in disaster and disgrace, and now he runs a clinic near Los Angeles's Skid Row, making ends meet by making house calls cash only, no questions asked on those too famous or too criminal to seek other medical care.
When a young boy is abandoned at his clinic, Knox is determined to find the boy's family and save him from the not-so-tender mercies of the child welfare bureaucracy. But Knox's search for the volatile woman who may or may not be the boy's mother leads him and his friend, a former Special Forces operator, into a labyrinth of human traffickers, Russian mobsters, and corporate security thugs; and squarely into the sights of a powerful, secretive, and utterly ruthless family that threatens to destroy Dr. Knox and everything and everyone he holds dear.
About the Author
PETER SPIEGELMANis the author of Black Maps, which won the 2004 Shamus Award for Best First P.I. Novel, Death s Little Helpers, Red Cat, and Thick as Thieves. He lives in Connecticut. peterspiegelman.com"