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2012 Favorites #1 A Heartbeat Away

Title:  A Heartbeat Away
Author:  Harry Kraus                                                                                                                        
Pages:  370
Year:  2012
Publisher:   David C Cook
                Fantastic!  That is the first word that came to my mind when I finished reading this book by Harry Kraus.  This is a story that will capture you from the get-go and not let you go until the very last page.  The storytelling is superb, and the ability to get the reader emotionally involved was masterful.  There are four main characters in this contemporary medical thriller.  The use of flashbacks fills in details and creates mystery and suspense.
                Victoria Taylor is a 30-something oncology surgeon.  She operates on cancer patients to remove cancer with great success.  She revels in the awe and adoration of her med students and patients.  Her patients really like her, her med students put her on a pedestal and treat her like a god, but the nursing staff disdains her.  She publically humiliates the staff whenever they make mistakes.  Now the table is turned and Victoria is the patient.  Her heart is dying due to a very aggressive infection and she needs a heart transplant.  She is notified of an available heart and undergoes the operation.  In the recovery room, she experiences a frightening dream.  Or is it a memory?  As her recovery progresses, she continues to have nightmares.  She comes to believe that these are actually memories from the person who gave her the new heart.  Is this even possible?  The memories are of a murder.  Did this murder really happen?  Is she going crazy?  While recovering, she learns that she has been put on administrative leave due to an incident between herself and a janitor in front of several staff members.  She is required to do certain tasks or she will lose her job.  One of the tasks is to undergo anger management counseling.  She sees herself as changed in many ways after the surgery and feels compelled to investigate her memories/nightmares.  Her counselor helps her along the way.  Does she discover God along with way too?  What evil does her investigation uncover?  Is there a murderer out there waiting to strike again?
                Phin McGrath is a social worker who has agreed to counsel Tori.  He listens as she shares her memories and has no doubt they are real.  He helps her with her investigation and begins to develop feelings for Tori.  However, Tori is not a believer and Phin is a strong believer.  He agrees to continue to help her investigate, but pulls back from their developing personal relationship.
                Emily Greene is shown via flashback as a pretty girl who longs for love.  She falls in love with her neighbor and wants to be with him forever, but he is the son of missionary parents and they are returning to Africa soon.  Christian Mitchell is the only son of a surgeon who is also a missionary and works in Africa.  He has grown up in Africa.  He has a heart of deep compassion and discernment.  He loves Emily as well, but doesn’t think her method of arranging for them to be together is right.  He is a believer and Emily says she is a believer too.  Christian walks away that summer when they were 16 and never sees Emily again.  He becomes a pediatrician and works in a clinic downtown in a poor area.  He sees a patient who brings along a friend.  This friend has different hair color and is dressed differently, but he could swear it is Emily.  What had happened to put her in these dire circumstances?  Why did she act like she didn’t know him?  What secrets is she hiding?
                There is so much more to the story that I just don’t have space to tell you, but suffice it to say that it is well worth your time to read this excellent novel.  I definitely plan on reading more books by Harry Kraus.  Incidentally, the author is also a surgeon and medical missionary who practices in East Africa.  There is an interesting segment at the end of the book called “after words” that allows you to learn more about the author.
                My rating is 5 stars.
Note:  I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book.  The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility.  Other reviews can be read at .  Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at
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