Wendi Stratford has the perfect life, including her perfect job as an accident reconstructionist. The problem is, it’s all a sham, and Wendi is tired of the emptiness. But after her plan to escape ends in a horrible accident, Wendi probes the wreckage—and makes a frightening discovery. Someone is out to commit the perfect murder. Wendi’s.
In surgeon-cum-novelist Kraus’s cloudy medical thriller, protagonist Wendi Stratford is a self-described “professional Christian”: she has the perfect house, haircut and church (where Daddy is the pastor). Her husband also seems perfect, a man so meticulous that he carries three pens in his white physician’s coat and knots his silk ties so that the longer tail hangs exactly two centimeters below the shorter one. Wendi is tired of hiding her real self behind a plastic facade, but when she lays aside her mask, tragedies begin to occur all around her. This raises one of the novel’s more provocative questions: does God punish people for their sins? Kraus clearly knows his way around an OR, and intimate medical details give the story’s less plausible plot twists some heft. Kraus also presents thoughtful ruminations on sin, guilt and forgiveness with some finesse. However, as suspense, this novel falls far short. The first half is devoted to character development for Wendi and her immediate family, but none of those nuances extend to the characters who become central in the more plot-driven second half, especially the stock villain. (June)
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