Book Review: Fatal Rounds by Carrie Rubin

Fatal Rounds
Carrie Rubin

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Recent medical school graduate Liza Larkin knows something is wrong when she sees a stranger in the background of three family photos, including one from her father’s funeral. When a reverse-image search identifies Dr. Samuel Donovan, a top trauma surgeon in the Boston area, Liza switches her first-choice residency to Titus McCall Medical Center where Donovan works. Liza wants to keep an eye on this mysterious doctor and potential stalker. She can take care of herself, but she wants to protect her mother, Emily, a schizophrenic patient at nearby Home & Hearth Healing. She feels guilty about putting her mother in a psychiatric facility, but knows she could not provide adequate home-care.

Liza may be a strong woman, but she struggles with schizoid personality disorder and mourns her father, Kevin who was her best advocate. He refused to label his daughter. “You are not a list of symptoms, Liza. You are not a diagnosis. You are you, you are special,” he told her. Kevin, a rising politician, survived a shooting and immediately retired to open a food truck business, only to die from a heart attack two years later. Now Liza hears his voice in her head, guiding her decisions.

A little background information: schizoid personality disorder is not schizophrenia. It’s a condition “characterized by a lack of interest in social relationships, a tendency toward a solitary or sheltered lifestyle, secretiveness, emotional coldness, detachment and apathy.” (Wikipedia) Liza has a history of defending others with violence, but regular therapy has taught her how to overcome these tendencies and become more social. Combined with long runs and vigorous boxing workouts she manages her condition and has a small circle of friends. One concerning fact: Liza has stopped her therapy.

As Liza digs into medical records, she discovers a disturbing pattern of Donovan’s patients who suffered severe trauma but died from different causes after they recovered. Donovan’s god-like image will be hard to bring down, however, and Liza may have met her match. The closer she gets to uncovering Donovan as a murderer, the more reckless and crazed she becomes.

Wow, I really enjoyed this tightly-written story, Rubin’s latest medical/psychological thriller. Rubin does a great job with Liza’s character, who is far from perfect and sometimes makes bad decisions. Readers also learn what life is like for a first-year resident and about hospital administrative hierarchies. And through often-humorous dialogue and description, one of Rubin’s trademarks, we also get to know the side characters. As in her other books, she keeps the story current, highlighting some of society’s problems such as opiate addiction, obesity, and mental illness, as well as progress in social issues such as gay marriage.

The title is a clever play on words, referring to both doctors’ rounds and a boxing match. Donovan seems to be winning the rounds, but who will win the match?

Fatal Rounds is the first in the Liza Larkin series. I’m looking forward to the next one!

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Book Review: The Bone Hunger by Carrie Rubin

The Bone Hunger
Carrie Rubin

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

If you’re looking for a great medical thriller, check out The Bone Hunger by Carrie Rubin, the second in the Ben Oris series. Set in Philadelphia at the fictional Montgomery Hospital, it picks up after the first book, The Bone Curse. (Read my review here.) The Bone Hunger can be easily read as a standalone novel and follows the personal and professional life of Ben Oris. Ben was a medical student in the first book and now he’s a resident at Montgomery. Here’s a rundown of the story’s opening:

Dr. Ben Oris is not looking for trouble. After what he’s been through, he likes the ordinary. Three years earlier, he was cut by an ancient bone and became involved in a strange incident involving a mysterious disease and a Haitian Vodou priestess. Now Ben’s life is busy, but normal. A second-year orthopedic surgery resident, he’s under the tutelage of Dr. Kent Lock, one of the best reconstructive surgeons in the country. He’s also a single dad to three-year-old Maxwell. Nothing but work, family, and a hopeful romance on the horizon, just the way he wants it.

On a wintry walk through the Wissahickon Valley Park, Ben and Maxwell’s mother, Sophie, discover the severed limb of a recent knee surgery patient. Police and hospital seniors think it may be a sick prank, but later, when more orthopedic surgery patients go missing and their hacked-off limbs turn up, bearing alarming bite marks, Ben finds himself at the center of a murder investigation. In a rush against time, he must balance his demanding job and parenting responsibilities, follow hunches and most important, protect the people he loves.

At Montgomery, Lock and his surgical team continue their surgery schedule, replacing knees and hips, on the heels of a near-death plane crash in Alaska while on a humanitarian mission. Psychological stress and fears about who the next victim will be may be too much for the team. In addition, new developments make Ben question his professional loyalties. Are the surgical implants somehow connected to these grisly crimes? Should Ben investigate or leave it to the police?

Rubin provides readers with a great look at what it’s like to work in the medical world, with a big dose of grueling schedules, hospital hierarchies, politics, feuds and power plays. She also offers a realistic commentary about life situations, specifically related to diversity, treatment of the elderly, religion and respecting differing beliefs. She does all this with compassion and humor and expertly builds these details into the story.

Rubin also includes chapters about the mysterious “monster” responsible, but not its identity. Written in first-person, these chapters offer insight and suspenseful details as the story develops.

The plot moves at a steady pace and then, bam! Readers get what they’ve been waiting for: a thrilling confrontation between good and evil, with all sorts of unexpected twists. Even the final pages reveal additional developments, setting Ben and the rest of the characters up for the future.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Bone Hunger and recommend it to readers who like medical thrillers, suspenseful stories and mysteries. I look forward to the next in the series.

I received a copy of The Bone Hunger from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Check out my reviews of Rubin’s other books below:

The Seneca Scourge
Eating Bull
The Bone Curse

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Book Club Mom’s Author Update – Carrie Rubin

Author name: Carrie Rubin

Genre: Medical Thrillers

Book: The Bone Hunger

During these pandemic times, I’ve remained focused on my writing (or at least I’ve tried to…) and have some book updates to share. Thank you so much, Barbara, for the opportunity.

Last month, Book 2 in my Benjamin Oris series about a man of science who faces otherworldly situations was released. In The Bone Hunger, a standalone thriller, Ben is now a second-year orthopedic surgery resident. When the severed limbs of his former patients start turning up in Philadelphia parks, he must once again bury his skepticism and risk his career to uncover the monstrous force behind the murders before someone close to him becomes the next victim. Publishers Weekly notes: “This is just the ticket for Robin Cook fans.”

And because I don’t always walk on the dark side, in June, my lighthearted cozy mystery, The Cruise Ship Lost My Daughter, was published under the pen name Morgan Mayer. Inspired by a cruise I accompanied my mother and stepfather on, it’s about a spry and tenacious octogenarian couple who go searching for their daughter on the same British Isles cruise she went missing from six weeks before.

Meanwhile, my agent has my newest manuscript on submission, and I’m working on another one I hope to submit to her by the end of November.

Thank you again, Barbara. Always a pleasure to visit Book Club Mom!


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Open to all authors – self-published, indie, big-time and anything in between. Author submissions are limited to one per author in a six-month period.

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BC Mom’s Author Update: new medical thriller by Geoffrey M. Cooper

Welcome to Book Club Mom’s Author Update. Open to all authors who want to share news with readers.

Announcing the release of Nondisclosure

After publishing his award-winning debut medical thriller, The Prize, Geoffrey Cooper has been hard at work. Earlier this month, he announced the release of his second novel, Nondisclosure.

Nondisclosure is a medical thriller dealing with a case of sexual harassment that escalates to rape and murder. When a leading professor at a top-tier medical research institute accuses a colleague of drugging and sexually assaulting a student, department chair Brad Parker and university detective Karen Richmond join forces to investigate, only to be stymied by a victim who can’t remember what happened. But as fragments of memory resurface, she’s brutally attacked and murdered. The conclusion is obvious, but in the absence of forensic evidence, police hit a wall—until Brad and Karen’s inquiries take an unexpected turn that not only threatens their own lives, but exposes a cover-up at the highest levels of the university.

Geoffrey M. Cooper is a retired cancer researcher and scientific administrator, having held positions at Harvard Medical School and Boston University. He is the author of a leading cell biology text, The Cell, as well as several books on cancer, and is now using his background in academic research to write medical fiction.

Learn more about Geoffrey Cooper and his books at

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Who’s That Indie Author? Geoffrey M. Cooper


Author name:  Geoffrey M. Cooper

Genre:  Medical Thriller

Book:  The Prize

Bio:  Geoffrey M. Cooper is an experienced cancer researcher and scientific administrator, having held positions as a Professor, Department Chair and Associate Dean at Harvard Medical School and Boston University. He is the author of a leading cell biology text, The Cell, as well as several books on cancer. The Prize is his first novel, in which he brings his background in medical research to life in a tale of fraud, deceit and murder. His second novel, dealing with sexual harassment in science, is in the works.

Favorite thing about being a writer:  Immersing myself in a story and developing characters that take off on their own.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  Promotion and marketing! Much harder than writing.

Favorite book:  All of Robert Parker’s work, especially his Spenser and Jesse Stone novels. I also love Robin Cook’s and John Grisham’s books.

Contact Information:
Twitter: @GeofCooper

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Book Review: The Bone Curse by Carrie Rubin

The Bone Curse
Carrie Rubin


Ben Oris doesn’t worry when he is cut by an ancient bone in the Catacombs of Paris. After all, he’s a third-year med student and he knows how to treat a little cut. But something is wrong when he returns to school to begin a rotation in internal medicine. The cut won’t heal and people close to him are getting sick. Has Ben picked up an unknown pathogen? Is there something evil at work? It’s a race against time for Ben and his best friend Laurette, who is sure Ben needs to see a Haitian Vodou priestess.

In The Bone Curse, Carrie Rubin pits science and medicine against the idea of an ancient Haitian curse in an exciting medical thriller that keeps the reader guessing through the final pages. Set in the sweltering heat of Philadelphia summer, the story focuses on three tense weeks during which Ben tries to balance a demanding schedule while friends and family fall like bowling pins. Can he trust Laurette’s mysterious Haitian relatives and contacts?

Rubin tells a great story and develops her characters well. Readers will cheer for Ben, who is charmingly human and chew their nails as he confronts formidable and frightening opponents.

There are many things to like about Rubin’s writing style. One is her humor and understanding of the human condition. What fun to see Ben navigate a complicated love life and looming disaster, yet take a moment, while maneuvering Philly streets, to enjoy his “Bumper-to-bumper, parallel-parking masterpiece.” In addition, readers will enjoy a look into med school politics as Ben fends off rivals and a demanding attending physician. Ben’s modern and realistic family situation rounds out his character, making him both likable and knowable.

Rubin also knows how to keep a story moving by building a fear of the unknown. Vodou curses, blood sacrifices, and strange ceremonies in dark smoky row-house rooms are the backdrops to wild confrontations between murky good and evil characters as Ben does his best to determine who’s on the good side.

The Bone Curse is the first in the Benjamin Oris series of medical thrillers and Rubin rewards her readers with a satisfying finish and promise of more thrills. In addition, hints of a developing relationship between Ben and Laurette will no doubt make Ben’s love life an enticing side-story.

Due out this month, I recommend The Bone Curse to readers who like thrilling books with otherworldly themes.

I received a copy of The Bone Curse from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Eating Bull by Carrie Rubin

Eating Bull
Eating Bull

Carrie Rubin


I don’t read a lot of thrillers, but, after seeing the cover of Eating Bull, I had to know what it was all about, especially the title.  I discovered an extremely well-crafted medical/psychological thriller that tackles the subject of obesity and the food industry’s role in this serious health problem.

Set in Cleveland, Ohio, the story focuses on Jeremy Harjo Barton, an obese teenager, whose home life has without question contributed to his condition. His single mom, Connie Barton works two jobs and brings home greasy take-out every night. His agoraphobic grandfather spends his time berating Jeremy’s size and habits. It’s no better at school, where he’s harassed because of his weight. Now his health has become a bigger problem. At three hundred and ten pounds, Jeremy can hardly get around without reaching for his inhaler. He finds his only solace in playing his favorite video game, War of the Wilderness, with a stash of chips and candy bars at his side.

Desperate for a solution, Connie takes Jeremy to see Sue Fort, a nurse at the local health department, hoping Sue can help Jeremy lose weight. With Sue’s guidance and support, Jeremy seems to be on the right track.  Small successes are good, but Sue sees a much bigger picture and urges the family to join her in a lawsuit against the food industry. Once in, Jeremy and Connie quickly learn what being at the center of this lawsuit means: a great deal of media exposure, particularly for Jeremy. Sue’s already in the hot seat at work for other controversial decisions. This lawsuit and exposure may be more than she can handle.

There’s a much bigger problem, however. A psychopath is lurking in the community. The self-named Darwin is on a sinister mission to kill as many obese people as possible, guided by a voice within him whose mantra is survival of the fittest. Darwin attacks his victims with an alarmingly vicious ferocity, making his hate clear. Once Jeremy’s story hits the news, Darwin knows what he has to do.

As the plots develop and threaten to merge, Rubin uses her keen understanding of human behavior to fill in the details and back stories, making Eating Bull more than just a mystery. A look at Darwin’s childhood offers an explanation but not an excuse for his actions. Rubin has also mastered the ability to describe situations through her characters’ points of view. Darwin’s hatred and contempt for the overweight comes through loud and clear. Jeremy’s teenage perspective is also realistic and telling.

Eating Bull is also a thoroughly hip story, with teenagers, marital conflict, and local color built into the plot, including a great deal of subtle commentary and humor. Small descriptions of décor and atmosphere enhance the reader’s understanding of the scene, some of it tongue-in-cheek. One of my favorites refers to a meeting in attorney Sammy Sanchez’s office:

“A cloud of vanilla-scented mist sprayed from an automatic air-freshener on a shelf behind him.”

Regarding the problems of obesity, Rubin tackles the question of who’s to blame with fairness. Good and bad characters raise valuable points on both sides of the argument, which keeps the story from becoming preachy.

As the story continues, Rubin introduces a number of shady characters with alarming traits and makes the reader question just who Darwin could be. Early clues tempt the reader to guess, but a full read is required for the story to play out to its wild and satisfying finish.

A great suspenseful read wrapped around an important social and health issue.

Click here to check out Carrie Rubin’s debut novel, The Seneca Scourge.

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Who’s That Indie Author? Carrie Rubin

Who's That Indie Author pic

Carrie Rubin pic

Author name: Carrie Rubin

Genre: Medical thriller

Books: Eating Bull (ScienceThrillers Media, 2015) and The Seneca Scourge (Whiskey Creek Press/Start Media, 2012), awarded Best New E-book: Fiction, USA Best Book Awards

Eating Bull               The Seneca Scourge

Bio: Carrie Rubin is a physician with a master’s degree in public health. She’s been easing into fiction writing for the past 15 years and is a member of the International Thriller Writers association. In addition to writing medical thrillers, she maintains a humor blog on her website. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two sons.

Favorite thing about being a writer: Being able to tell stories and bring characters to life.

Biggest challenge as an indie author: Promotion. Whether self-published or small-press published, getting our books in front of new eyes requires a daily time commitment, not to mention stepping out of our introverted shoes.

Favorite book: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. Its beautifully written, yet heart-wrenching story of impoverished life in 1975 India stayed with me for a long time. But I also love Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, Midwives by Chris Bohjalian, and the A-Z mystery series by Sue Grafton. Oops, did I just cheat by listing so many?

Contact Information: You can find Carrie on her website, carrierubin.comFacebook, Twitter(@carrie_rubin) Goodreads: Carrie Rubin and Google+.

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Email for a bio template and other details, and follow along on Book Club Mom to join the indie author community!

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