While serving on a surgical team in Afghanistan, Mike receives a devastating message from home. His wife Chloe has died in her kitchen, a victim of a household accident. Upon his return, Mike discovers that his wife had a problem with alcohol, drinking vodka even while driving her car. Probing further, he learns that she was pregnant with another man’s child.
As he searches for explanations, his life continues to spiral downward.
His medical practice is in jeopardy and his infant daughter Emily screams uncontrollably whenever he approaches. Confused and angry, Mike returns to Afghanistan. While there, he is wounded and becomes dependent upon prescription painkillers. He returns to the United States, broken and unsure of how to proceed. More devastation follows and Mike faces a custody battle for his beloved Emily.
Throughout the novel, there is ample evidence of Scottoline’s intensity and accuracy. The horror of the battlefield comes alive and we can easily imagine scenes such as the following: “Black smoke flooded the interior. Joe and Dermot became frantic shadows trying to get out of the vehicle. Flames licked under the dashboard, superheating Mike’s face, searing his lungs. He gasped for breath. They’d burn alive if they didn’t get out.”
Mike’s inner struggle with Oxycontin as he faces the new “normal” dominates the second half of the book. We can empathize and understand the circumstances that would drive Mike to illegally prescribe opiates to himself.
A page turner that could be read in one sitting.