Combining computers, medicine and psychological trauma, THE DOCTOR WILL KILL YOU NOW offers up a well imagined and quite probable story of how one hacker–the intriguingly named character Harken Righteous–takes down the supposedly impenetrable world of hospitals and medical technology. Alienated from society and deviously clever, Righteous is self-taught and longs for a greater acknowledgment of his genius. So he concocts a series of events that leaves hospital and lab technology compromised and patients dead.
Author Louis Siegel placed a hero, Dr. Charlie White, in the path of Righteous’ planned destruction. White, in addition to being a doctor, happens to understand technology and like a character out of central casting, he loves his beautiful wife, plays hunches and thinks through the security protocol for the ad-hoc team of cops, docs, and techs put together to catch Righteous. And even though much of White’s conversation consists of overly expository dialogue, readers will find the doctor endearing and root for him to catch Righteous.
Siegel, himself a doctor with an engineering degree, packs loads of medical and computer information inside the plot of THE DOCTOR WILL KILL YOU NOW and it’s obvious he knows what he’s talking about. Siegel lays out a relevant story, capturing the peril and promise of technology to humans that will resonate in a world saturated with smart phones and security cameras, as it underscores the vulnerability of the medical technology that was intended to saves lives. But while the premise is strong, the writing doesn’t always deliver. At times Siegel gives information to the reader in stealthy packets that move the plot along. But sometimes he doesn’t, cramming pages of data into the story and stifling the novel’s forward progress. These passages lessen the impact of the book but don’t completely take away from the enjoyment of the well-imagined story.
Siegel does add in a number of auxiliary characters who punch up the story. Dr. Rob Norther sees Righteous in his psychiatrist practice and is a cowardly foil for Harken’s pathologies. Norther appears at the beginning and end of the story, and their interactions foreshadow what is to come. But no person is all evil. Harken’s good side comes out through a relationship with Maribeth, an office assistant for Dr. White. With her, Harken questions himself, catching a glimpse of a life that doesn’t include his horrendous plan to hurt people.
With an intriguing and relevant story, there’s enough information and imagination in Louis Siegel’s THE DOCTOR WILL KILL YOU NOW to overlook the slight meanderings and stilted dialogue.
~Greg Rideout for IndieReader