Dr. Cristina LePort was born in Bologna, Italy, where she attended medical school before emigrating to the USA to complete her Internal Medicine residency at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn and her Cardiology fellowship at West Los Angeles VA/UCLA. She has been practicing medicine for more than 30 years as Dr. Cristina Rizza. “Dissection: A Medical and Political Thriller” is her first published novel and a tense thriller with complex characters that combines cutting-edge medical technology with horrific yet still believable terrorist plots.
“Dissection” – DC heart surgeon Dr. Steven Leeds is suddenly overwhelmed by a handful of extremely complicated heart attack and stroke cases, all caused by a rare arterial injury―a dissection. The victims all have one thing in common: they receive harmless-looking cards announcing, “Your heart attack/stroke will arrive within one hour!” It all starts with Dr. Nirula receiving a card warning him of an impending fatal heart attack. At first he dismisses it because he knows his personal odds of such an episode are slim, but then he remembers that 25% of people who have heart attacks have no known risks. His heart starts pounding as his life flashes through his mind, but eventually he moves on. He is the first of many such cases but unfortunately some do not make it. When private detective Kirk Miner and FBI agent Jack Mulville start investigating, they immediately suspect Leeds’ former lover, Dr. Silvana Moretti, a brilliant research scientist who harbors a grudge against all the victims. When important people in the U.S. government begin to receive these same threatening cards and experience similar cardiac emergencies, it falls to the unlikely team of three―the headstrong FBI agent, the gifted private investigator, and the brilliant but conflicted heart surgeon―to find the actual perpetrators and to snuff out a catastrophic plot that only the medically astute can divine.
Dr. Cristina LePort has written an impressive debut novel. Her experience as a medical professional gives it an authentic voice, for example, when she describes a heart attack: “a heavy sickening pressure rose from the center of his chest and spread like an oil spill to reach his jaw.” When doctors themselves get sick, the experience tends to give them a reality check, such as when Dr. Nirula admits that it is not fun being on the other side, being the patient instead of the doctor. The thorough character development makes them relatable, flawed, but overall courageous. With her descriptive language, the author makes the story come alive: “Fear receded like a wave from the shore and crashed into anger.” The political thriller subplot gives it an extra thrill ride during the rush to find the designated survivor to avoid a catastrophe and in case the president does not make it. The chapters are short and the action is mostly dialogue driven. Highlights include Chapter 3: Dissection where Dr. LePort describes Dr. Steven Leeds preparing to perform surgery: he “slid a cap over his thinning black hair, reached for a sponge, and stepped on the pedal to switch on the water” and Chapter 31: Choices when all hell breaks loose and Kirk Miner and Jack Mulville relentlessly pursue the terrorists even though they have both been injured. “Dissection” is a must read suspenseful page turner that combines a fast paced medical thriller with white knuckle political action. It is recommended for readers who appreciate the best of Tom Clancy and Robin Cook.
“She stared at her husband for a long moment as if deciding how to best handle the possible emergency. The man flapped his hand, hurrying her to get ready. A few minutes later, man and wife sat buckled up in their car on their way to Capitol Hospital. The man’s headache and neck pain escalated with the car’s bouncing and swerving. To him, the city street lights appeared blurred. Panic set in.”
*The author received a copy of this book for an honest review. The views and opinions expressed here belong solely to her.