In the tiny town of Patience, California, newcomer Dr. Abby Dolan has noticed a frightening syndrome among her emergency room patients. It begins with a baffling, seemingly minor set of symptoms, but builds relentlessly until it plunges its victims into insane, murderous rages. As she searches for clues to this deadly mystery, Abby’s superiors make it clear her probing is unwelcome.
Soon Abby will learn just how high the cost of the truth may be–and how far someone will go to keep a lethal secret. But she may not find the answer until it’s too late to save her patients, her career…her life.
The impetus for this book, as with some others, came from the news–this time, two very disturbing events in California. In one, a gunman in San Diego opened fire inside a crowded McDonalds, killing many. Not long after, in northern California, a man with a semi-automatic weapon opened fire on a playground of children, killing a number of them. Inconceivable! I began to wonder how such events could happen, and I decided (obviously) that the gunmen were insane. Then my storyteller’s imagination began to rumble. What if the two of them, plus some others, were together at the same place and moment when some sort of toxic exposure occurred, poisoning their brains, and rendering them homicidally disturbed, with none of them realizing what had happened. Critical Judgment started there and just kind of evolved. Abby Dolan, a junk-food addict must make a major decision. She loves her ER job in San Francisco, but her engineer fiancé has taken a position in the small mountain town of Patience, a hundred and fifty miles away. She decides her love is more important than her career, and accepts an ER position in Patience, not knowing that the man who awaits her is hardly the man who left the city to move there.
One of the characters who drives the story and about whom I received many letters, is Ives, a hermit and master archer (read Zen and the Art of Archery) who was not even a character in my original outline. I developed him simply because I needed a particular type of patient for Abby to care for in the ER. Almost before I knew it, he had taken over much of the book. That’s when this writing business is really fun!
Of all my books, I see this one and The Patient as being the most cinematic. So far, no go, although The Patient was optioned for a while. Sometimes I look at what comes out of Hollywood and just shake my head. Sometimes I get rankled that an author is not considered to have truly arrived unless some cigar-chomping producer in Hollywood decides to film his book. What’s that? Your second cousin once removed knows someone at Dreamworks? Well, now, let’s talk!