Running away from a past she’d rather forget, Doctor Alison Wilson has moved to a new town to take up the role of Medical Officer at failing hospital Saint Margaret’s.
Tasked with shaking things up, she quickly learns that things are worse than they initially seem: patient records are in disarray, staff morale is low, and there’s something afoot that she can’t quite put her finger on…
As Alison starts to dig into the hospital’s past, she gradually discovers a trail of lies that runs deeper and darker than she could have ever imagined.
There’s a cold-blooded killer in the hospital. And they’re hiding in plain sight…
Hi and welcome to my review of The Doctor! A.k.a. another episode in my ongoing series: “going in with the wrong expectations can and will severely impact your reading pleasure”.
Yes, dear reader, I managed to go in with the wrong expectations again. Especially with that tagline, and that cover, I expected a medical thriller, most likely with a bit of an angel of mercy angle. This is not that. This is a psychological thriller set in a hospital. Which, to my mind, are two very different things.
Recent examples of medical thrillers might be Jack Jordan’s Do No Harm, or Sometimes People Die by Simon Stephenson. These are books in which the medical aspect and the fact that the main characters are medical professionals, are so inextricably woven into the plot, the setting, the whole book, that the whole thing would just fall apart without that medical aspect.
That is not the case with The Doctor, which, to me, felt a lot like any other psychological thriller, only it just happens to be set in a hospital. Don’t get me wrong, I did like the setting. The author is a former NHS nurse and it does show, she clearly knows what she’s writing about and the setting felt very authentic.
However, the main plot line is our protagonist Alison Wilson, sorting out an administrative mess and trying to figure out who wants her gone so badly that they are messing with her head, her computer, her car, and yes, her cat. Oh, and Alison happens to be a doctor. Even with the suspicious deaths, this plot would have worked just as well in an office building with Alison as the CFO. The cold-blooded killer-who-is-actually-a-caregiver angle seemed like a bit of an afterthought to me.
When you go in expecting a medical thriller like the ones mentioned above, The Doctor falls just a little bit flat. It did not help that I had the killer pegged from the moment they first appeared. For me it was all very predictable and rather stereotyped. Maybe I’ve just read too many thrillers but this one felt mediocre at best, for me there was nothing to make it stand out amongst its peers.
The Doctor is a quick and easy read, and if you’re looking for a psychological thriller with an authentic setting, and you go in with the right expectations, who knows, you may well enjoy it more than I did.
The Doctor is out now in digital formats, audio and paperback.
Thanks to Avon and NetGalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own.