The Bottom Line: John A. Karr has reinvented the revenge fantasy with this riveting, relentless and cinematic medical thriller.
Have you ever been marginalized, jilted or just plain out rejected? If so, it’s only natural that your thoughts might briefly drift to the dark side before coming to your senses and moving on. John A. Karr’s Shattered is a smartly-crafted thriller about what happens when revenge becomes an unhealthy obsession.
When we meet Andrew Raynorr M.D., he’s already well into his plan to lash out at the world. To Karr’s credit, Raynorr’s backstory isn’t the one you expect. He didn’t get fired for botching a surgery or some other form of malpractice. Instead, Raynorr’s practice was ruthlessly crushed through entirely legal means. Eventually, Raynorr was arrested for practicing without a license. He also lost his family along the way.
Karr doesn’t waste time showing us the downfall of the once-mighty doctor. Instead, we’re immediately immersed in the final test of Raynorr’s bio-weapon. The book’s opening is so believable – and frankly disturbing – that it kept this reviewer up all night.
Meanwhile, we’re introduced to Bridget Devereaux, an especially bright intern at Chambers Hospital. She’s bespectacled, thoughtful enough to ponder the meaning of Van Gough paintings, and able to deftly navigate work drama with her older counterpart, Nurse Watkins. Bridget suspects something is strange about the strain of leukemia they are seeing in recent admissions. Unable to find an ally other than Nurse Watkins, she quickly becomes not only a master sleuth, but also the only person who can stop Raynorr.
Although there’s never any doubt that Bridget and Raynorr are headed for a showdown, the lengths to which Raynorr will go are continuously inventive and surprising. The intensity Karr creates on the very first page never lets up. This is a story that would translate to the movies very well. If you enjoyed Contagion, you’re going to love Shattered.