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by Paul Carson
William Heinemann, August 2004
384 pages
ISBN: 043401303X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

AMBUSH is the latest of Paul Carson's peripherally medical thrillers. The Irish physician turned his attention from the non-fiction of the medical world to a full-length novel in 1997, when SCALPEL proved eminently successful. His newest release displays more of an interest in death than healing but this is only to be expected, after all, in a thriller.

Chicago-raised (despite being the son of Irish parents) paediatrician Scott Nolan has married an Irish girl, Laura, and moved to Dublin where he is seen as a stellar acquisition for the City Hospital. His name has become very well known to the general populace as he has been teamed with the Justice Minister, Harry Power, in a stated attempt to eliminate illegal drugs in the city.

Unfortunately, his name is too well known to the underworld and on an unpleasant, snowy morning, when the visibility is poor, Scott survives an assassination attempt which takes the life of his beloved wife, who was wearing items of Scott's clothing and driving their car, rather than walking in the vile weather. Minutes before this, Harry Power has survived a similar assassination attempt masterminded by the same assassin responsible for the death of Laura Nolan, Irishman Sean Kennedy. Power's policeman bodyguard loses his life while protecting the anti-drugs crusading Minister.

Scott has always been loathed by his brother-in-law, Detective Mark Higgins but now Higgins states categorically that Nolan, rather than Laura should have died and simple loathing has escalated to hatred.

Sean Kennedy has a motive for his attempted assassination of the drug-destroying duo. He and his partner of convenience, former policeman Jay Davis, have an ambitious plan to become millionaires drug dealing in Ireland. Kennedy, never a paragon of sensitive benevolence, murders those he commissioned to perform the failed killings then sets about advancing his inroads into drug dealing. He is domiciled in Holland where he is the sometime protector of some prostitutes. He travels from there to Bangkok, where he was once resident, in order to set up a cargo of drugs which will, once landed in Ireland, ensure he and Davis become enormously wealthy.

In the meantime, Nolan is seen by his employing hospital as a liability so, so far as the public knows, he returns to the United States to work there. In reality, Scott has vowed to avenge the murder of his wife and proposes a plan to the Irish authorities. He and his brother-in-law must needs form a partnership, distasteful to both.

The story is, for want of a better description, action-packed. The heroes are not quite as golden-hued as they might be but the villains could scarcely be blacker. The descriptions of the locales are convincing and the mind sets of the baddies terrifying. The plan of revenge formulated by Scott and undertaken by him and Higgins is ingenious, albeit unpleasant. There is a nice touch when a hardened cop faints at the sight of an injection. In summary, this is a good, thrilling tale.

Reviewed by Denise Pickles, August 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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