Saturday, September 25, 2010

A review of "The Price of Life" [71]

The Price of Life by Greg McCarthy
Otherworld Publishing, ISBN 978-0982649442
July 1, 2010, 266 pages

Eight year old Jennifer Haller is dying of a brain tumor...and it didn't have to happen. If the neurologist her mother had taken her to for the headaches had ordered a CT scan, and the tumor had been diagnosed months ago, she would not be dying. If their insurance company had paid for the experimental laser surgery that was her only hope, she would not be dying. But neither had happen and so she will die.

Jennifer's father is a Marine, just returned from war with a terrible injury that cost him a leg. Her mother is overcome with grief, barely able to cope with day to day life since their daughter's death. Her parents want someone to pay, someone to acknowledge the mistakes and decisions that caused their daughter to die and so they decide to sue for malpractice and hire Fort Worth lawyer Grant Mercer to take their case. He wants them to understand that the case will not be easy and that even if they win, the award will be limited due to recent tort reform regarding malpractice cases passed in the legislature. But they say the money is of no consequence, they just want some sort of justice for their daughter.

A lobbyist is killed, then a Texan state senator, both tied to the recent tort reform legislation. When a third man, an insurance executive, is killed, Mercer thinks there may be ties to his case and it seems someone may be trying to exact their own form of justice.

When I read what this book was about, I thought it was a good idea that had the makings of a good story. Sadly for me, it was a good idea unrealized.

What was the problem? Well, I think it is imperative in a story like this that you identify with the characters, that you feel their pain if you will, and that is very difficult in this book. The lawyer is perhaps the most sympathetic, but we never really get to know him or the grieving parents well enough to care a great deal. Not enough to really feel for them. Yes, a dead daughter is a terrible an abstract way. The murder victims are nothing more than evil caricatures. Very wealthy men, drinking their single malt scotch, driving their very expensive cars and drying their hands on Egyptian cotton towels. Should we really care that they died...why?

Then there are the speeches. Yes, I get it...insurances companies are evil, lobbyists are evil, politicians are evil. The government lied to the soldiers they send to war, didn't care for them properly when they returned, psychically or mentally. I have said it before but I will repeat it. I have no problem with an author presenting a certain point of view, even if I might not agree. I do resent being hit over the head with it...again and again. Make a case, but don't lecture me. Subtly, not speeches.

And then finally, there is the fact that the murderer is quite obvious, even with the slight curve the author throws in at the end. A good mystery needs some misdirection, some red herrings and quite honestly, the suspect pool is so small, there is little surprise.
I finished the book, curious to see if I was right about the outcome, and not surprisingly, I was. And that was not really a satisfying thing.

My thanks to Jocelyn M. Kelley of Kelley & Hall for an ARC of this book.


  1. I liked the story idea but characters are really important to me. I don't have to like them but they have to be interesting and I have to care about what's happening to them. I don't really like when I can figure out who the murderer is well before the book ends when a good part of the story is tracking down the murderer.

    I think it's great you read the book all the way til the end despite figuring it out and other issues with the book!

    ~ Amy

  2. If I accepted a book and am going to write a review, I really, really try to finish it. I will admit there are books so bad that I could not. Then I did not write a review.
    This book is not in that category. In fact, it is well written...but yes, there were other, serious issues.

  3. It does sound like it has a great idea ... I was getting kind of excited reading the description. Sorry to hear it falls short.


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