Crisis: Blue, the debut novel of author John A. Davis, is simultaneously a medical thriller and a spy thriller with a thought-provoking view of potential attacks on the U.S. by joint efforts of North Korea and Iran. If you believe rogue nations are not plotting against the U.S., this book is a must read. The story opens with the Iranians bombing a fleet of American ships in the Straits of Hormuz, killing over 1,000 U.S. soldiers. Next, the bodies of Asian sailors with a blue tinge on their skin wash up onto the beach in Galveston, Texas, and very ill sailors with the same blue tinge present to the Emergency Department at the for-profit hospital in a small Louisiana town where they later die.
Many writers express their social and political views through the dialogue of their characters, and Davis is one. While the book could easily be seen by some as an ultra-conservative essay on current political issues, including decreased defense spending, a “border fence” and the media, Davis makes many bipartisan points as well. Additionally, the antagonists are shown to be the evil people they are rather than the religious zealots they claim to be.
Davis makes an extremely good point on the dangers and abuses of for-profit hospitals which have been known to put profits and stockholders’ interests ahead of patient care. The hospital’s owner, GeeHad Bin Sad (note the play on the word “jihad”) threatens to fire anyone who won’t refuse uninsured patients in the ER, even though the medical staff could lose their licenses by doing so. He subtly works into the dialogue comments about tobacco use and employees “countless cigarette breaks” along with several mentions of uninsured patients who cannot pay their bills. Kudos to Davis for making the American president a woman.
The main character, Dr. Rex Bent is determined to find the cause of death of those Asian sailors in Galveston and in his hospital. He contacts the CDC and NSA, which eventually brings them to his small Louisiana town. For this, the colluding North Koreans and Iranians decide he and his wife must die.
Early on I suspected that this was the author’s first novel, and a peek at his online presence confirmed that. After only a few chapters, however, the writing tightened up, and the story became more intriguing and moved more quickly. That’s when I reached the point where I couldn’t put the book down. I was stunned when the book suddenly ended right in the middle of the action. Still, I am anxious to find out what happens next, and am eagerly awaiting the publication of the next book in this series, Crisis: Black.
Do I recommend this book? Yes. It highlights problems for our country that deserve serious and thoughtful attention. The fact that those issues are presented as fiction may actually open the eyes of some folks. Davis mentioned Whiskey Bay as the hiding place of one of the North Korean cargo ships, so I had hopes that he would include comments on the effects of climate change and oil spills on our southern coastline. That was not mentioned.
What Made This Book Reviewer Grumpy?
The book is peppered with split-infinitives. We all use them in conversational English, but written English is different. Grammatical errors are often used in the dialogue of a character who is portrayed as being not well-educated. However, for the narrator of the storyline to use them is not a good thing.
While I never like abrupt endings, I especially didn’t like this one. The next line after the ending was “The action continues in Crisis: Black” — a little too blatant a marketing effort for my taste. Instead of ending like the typical serial novel, it ended more like a cliff-hanger season finale on television. I could not find Davis’s website, but found his bio on a site titled “Conservative Book Club”. It can be reached by clicking on his name in the first paragraph above.