Luke McKenna, a pediatric E.R. physician in Los Angeles,
is very suspicious when a young Mayan boy with a blue-crescent-moon
tattoo on his chest dies mysteriously in his ER. He is drawn
further into the mystery when a former girlfriend insists
on seeing him and then dies mysteriously. He is forced to
use all of his special ops skills from his past when he
is setup for a murder and to rescue the woman he loves from
a group whose research threatens the entire human race.
Philip Hawley's debut novel STIGMA is a very solid thriller
that captures the spirit of a Tom Clancy novel while having
a distinctive voice and style that makes it highly enjoyable
to read. The book was highly anticipated and I was hopeful
that it would be able to meet my expectations. Once I reached
the last page, I felt it had.
He successfully captured the tormented soul of his protagonist
and his conflict with his past in a way that seemed authentic.
There was an interesting set of supporting characters that
filled out the story nicely. The story is fast moving and
keeps your attention right to the end of the 496 pages,
which is an impressive feat.
I did have two concerns with the story. Luke's past as a
member of an ultra-secret special ops team and his present
as a pediatric E.R. physician seemed a little extreme in
contrast to each other and the ending was somewhat disappointing
as it felt like the story ended rather implausibly.
But neither of these concerns takes away from this very
solid book. The plotting is solid, the characters are developed
realistically and you don't want to put it down until the
An outstanding debut.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Kevin Einarson is the publisher of Spinetingler Magazine. His short
fiction has appeared in Mouth
Full of Bullets, Flashing in the Gutters and Spinetingler.
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2007 SPINETINGLER Magazine - All rights reserved