A Handful Of Ashes by Rob McCarthy

The Blurb On The Back:

Susan Bayliss became notorious when she blew the whistle on her boss, a heart surgeon at a renowned children’s hospital.  She accuse him of negligence, operations were stopped and an inquiry launched.  In the end she was the one suspended as a troublemaker.

Now Dr Harry Kent, a medical examiner with the Met Police, has been called out to certify her suicide.

But something about the scene is wrong.  Someone held Susan down.

The grieving parents of the children who died demand answers.  The hospital is stonewalling.  Everyone has secrets – it’s up to Harry and DCI Frankie Noble to find out which were worth killing for. 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Insomniac and amphetamine addict, Dr Harry Kent is a Metropolitan Police Force Medical Examiner, responsible for looking after suspects in custody and certifying deaths at potential crime scenes.  When he’s called to certify a young woman who has apparently committed suicide by slitting an artery in her arm, he spots bruising on her shoulders, as if she’d been held down.  The woman is Susan Bayliss, a registrar at the Belgrave Hospital for Sick Children, who blew the whistle on alleged negligence during heart operations, sparking an inquiry.  But the Belgrave was eventually cleared and Bayliss herself was suspended for unprofessional conduct.

Harry doesn’t want to get involved in the investigation, especially as it’s headed by acting DCI Frankie Noble, his ex-girlfriend who he hasn’t spoken to since they split up 8 months ago due to her alcoholism.  But then he’s contacted by Michelle Roberts, the mother of a girl who died after a heart operation at the Belgrave, who heads a group of the parents of other potential victims and he soon discovers irregularities at the hospital.  But the more he gets sucked in, the more he finds that some people will kill to keep them …

The second in Rob McCarthy’s DR HARRY KENT SERIES is an interesting medical crime thriller where I believed in the main character’s addiction and his desire to help the investigation enough to offset some of the pacing issues and an abrupt ending where the mystery gets dropped for Harry’s personal problems.  Harry is a well developed character, riddled with guilt following his time in the army and events in THE HOLLOW MEN, he’s dedicated to his job (and good at it) and his obsession with trying to discover the identity of a young girl left in a coma during the 2011 riots explains a lot of why he does what he does.  I was also interested in his fraught relationship with Frankie (whose recovery from alcoholism is well drawn), which lends a more interesting dynamic than the normal ‘will they won’t they’ plotlines.  The pacing does slip in certain sections and I didn’t buy into Harry’s new relationship with Beth (who’s underdrawn and whose interest in Harry seems convenient rather than real) while the ending switches abruptly from an arrest to Harry’s emotional issues.  However that said, there’s plenty here that held my interest and I would definitely check out the previous book.

A HANDFUL OF ASHES was released in the United Kingdom on 9th March 2017.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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