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Carolina Mountain Life Magazine: Review

By day, Dr. Kyle Chandler is a trauma surgeon, mending torn bodies, holding life in his hands, staring down Death with a passionate "not my patient, not today!" By night, when any normal person with his career would be huddled on the couch with a remote and a glass of wine, Kyle is instead plunging into the high stakes game of 19th Century French antiques.

Really? At first it seemed like an unlikely pairing, like bacon dipped in chocolate. On second thought I'm thinking, heck yeah, why not? It's a novel. I don't want to read about ordinary people doing ordinary things. So when dabbling in antiques become as much a life and death matter as meeting an ambulance at the emergency room, I say, bring it!

Kyle is the brainchild of D. Marshall Craig, MD, and the hero of this medical/Beaux Arts thriller, "Cut to the Chase." Dr. Craig has over thirty years' experience as a surgeon and is now a wine-maker as well as a novelist, so maybe Kyle's résumé is not so unlikely at all.

A novel can be a buffet, should be, really. A bit of this and that, everybody will find something good. Dr. Craig's story is just such a buffet.

First of all, the scenes in the ER are both finely detailed and compelling. Real medicine is being described, and you can't look away. And there's a heartfelt critique of "managed care" where bean-counters are making life and death decisions and doing it badly. It's pretty clear that Dr. Craig found that system to be monstrous, and he wants us to beware of it.

Kyle is a gifted surgeon and a canny investor in antiques, but he is also a bit of an ingénue, constantly opening doors and walking down dark alleys where he shouldn't. But fortunately he has super-competent, charismatic people to help him. Sydney Alfred is an older, wiser man who helps get Kyle into collecting and also out of trouble. Though he seems to be just another country club guy, he knows people, people with certain skills.

And there's Caroline. Smart, sophisticated, elegant. Kyle is smitten, anybody would be, but he is suddenly 13 years old again, a complete idiot, but also so genuinely in love with her that she can't not like him back. Or maybe even a little more than like...

Dr. Craig notes that he has been influenced by good television scripts, and it shows. "Cut to the Chase" is structured like a TV series, short episodes moving in on a longer arc towards the big finish. It's a great way to tell a story, and this one is a wild ride.


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