Book Review: Don’t Go

dontgo2It had been a while since I read Lisa Scottoline’s books. I expected a legal thriller with a gutsy female protagonist. Instead, Scottoline introduces Mike Scanlon, a podiatrist in crisis.

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.

Many Winding Roads to Success

John Grisham‘s first novel, A Time to Kill, was rejected 28 times before he found an unknown publisher who was willing to print a short run. Without the benefit of a major publisher’s marketing, Grisham went directly to booksellers encouraging them to stock his book. Since that time, he has written 25 best-selling novels, among them The Firm, The Brethren, and The Summons.

A publisher forwarded The Spy Who Came In From the Cold to a colleague with a note that read, “You’re welcome to leCarre. He hasn’t got any future.” John le Carre‘s book went on to become a bestseller and Publisher’s Weekly named it “best spy novel of all time.”

The first Harry Potter book was turned down by eight agents, and when J.K. Rowling finally got a deal, she was warned by the publisher, “You’ll never make any money with children’s books.” Since that time, the Potter books have won multiple awards, sold more than 400 million copies, and been the basis for a popular series of films.

After a five-year legal career, Lisa Scottoline decided to stay home, raise her daughter, and write part-time. It took five years to get published. In the meantime, she lived off her credit cards and was “broker than broke.” One of her early rejections is permanently etched in memory. The agent informed her that they didn’t have time to take on any more clients, and even if they did, they wouldn’t take her. She persisted and has written 22 best-sellers which are available in 25 countries.