Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tomorrow We Die by Shawn Grady

After reading Shawn Grady's debut novel, Through the Fire, and loving it, I could hardly wait for his sophomore offering. This book does not disappoint.

Let's begin with the summary:

Jonathan Trestle is a paramedic who's spent the week a few steps behind the angel of death. When he responds to a call about a man sprawled on a downtown sidewalk, Trestle isn't about to lose another victim. CPR revives the man long enough for him to hand Trestle a crumpled piece of paper and say, "Give this to Martin," before being taken to the hospital. The note is a series of dashes and haphazard scribbles. Trestle tries to follow up with the patient later, but at the ICU he learns the man awoke, pulled out his IVs, and vanished, leaving only a single key behind. Jonathan tracks the key to a nearby motel where he finds the man again--this time not just dead but murdered. Unwilling to just let it drop, Jonathan is plunged into a mystery that soon threatens not only his dreams for the future but maybe even his life.

And now, my review:

I was barely a teenager when I started volunteering at our local hospital, then held paying jobs there after I turned sixteen. As an adult, I became a medical transcriptionist. So, I’m drawn to medical stories, so long as they aren’t too gory. Now, this book may assault some sensitivities, at times, but I enjoyed it and highly recommend it. And for the record, I found a good balance between story building and edge-of-your-seat pacing. Also, I loved the romantic interest thread.

When it comes to emergency response, Grady obviously knows his stuff; he has served as a firefighter and paramedic for over ten years. So, when he takes you into fictional crisis situations, you feel like you’re right there, on the sidewalk beside the guy who’s dying. Compelling writing.

But you also get a sense that Grady is a wordsmith. He seems to enjoy toying with our language and presenting things in new ways. The dreaded malady of clich├ęs do not infect his writing.

And I love that, at least so far, Grady writes in first person point of view. Readers feel like they’re in the hero’s mind and heart. Speaking of which, Jonathan (the hero of TWD) has one. Immediately we relate with this broken guy whose life is dedicated to being able to help people in emergencies (with good reason). We feel his regrets over the past and his caring for his father who can’t seem to move on. I liked how Grady painted a “real” person who is himself a hero, but mostly unaware of that truth.

Readers of suspense, and those who enjoy medical themes, will love this book. Highly recommended.

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