Dr. Stevens meets Rico in a bar in Dubai just after he’s performed a successful kidney transplant on the Sheik’s son. Their first meeting doesn’t go well because Rico insinuates that one of the greatest transplant doctors in the world is only in it for the money, rather than performing a life-giving service that should be available to rich and poor alike.
But Rico isn’t done with his admonitions to the good doctor. He’s determined to locate the man’s weakness and exploit it, and thus the groundwork is laid for Rico’s revenge in a prologue that sets the stage for confrontations and ethical conundrums.
The first thing to note about The List – Rico’s Revenge is that the main event takes place a year later, when the good doctor is even more famous and even more apt to be in the right place at the right time to gain further fame and fortune. Despite the fact that he’s saving people’s lives, LAPD detectives Beth Harper and John Ramos sense that something is wrong–something likely connected to their investigation.
How are transplant recipients chosen? What are the opportunities for schemes involving pedaling organs to the wealthy? And how could the famous Dr. Stevens get rich off a system replete with underlying criminal influences?
An accident with possible widespread repercussions, a newfound focus on a secret list of names kept by Dr. Stevens, and increased transplant opportunities for the rich and famous keeps the detectives on their toes and Dr. Stevens and Rico dodging the bullets of discovery and ethical exposure in a fast-paced thriller reminiscent of the medical novels of Robin Cook.
The difference between a Cook production and L.J. Horn’s riveting novel, however, lies in the details. Horn focuses not on medical science but on the social and ethical conundrums faced by a range of characters as they navigate the uncertain grounds of medical treatments and opportunistic choices. This focus creates a novel that holds many thriller elements, but is just as satisfyingly filled with psychological tension and ethical insights as it outlines connections between crooks and curers.
Facing increasing threats of discovery, Rico reluctantly finds himself willing to kill a mother and her child to keep the lid on his deals. This and other choices lead to a possible rupture in his carefully-wrought control over Dr. Stevens in a story packed with twists and turns and satisfying developments on all sides.
Readers who seek medical stories embracing ethical challenges and relationships between talented physicians and those who would exploit inherent special interests will find The List -Rico’s Revenge an engrossing, different kind of murder mystery that even holds a taste of romance at the heart of its evolving story. It’s unexpected on many levels, and will delight readers interested in a solid production that operates on the cusp between mystery and thriller.
Diane Donovan at Midwest Book Review.