William Lynes’s The Plumber is a fast-paced novel that brings a chilly mystery into the world of medicine.
It was a wild goose chase right from the beginning. Rawley Spentwood staggered into the emergency room, screaming obscenities about his right flank. The twenty-six-year-old junkie found himself in a deserted alley, rats scurrying around him. It was dark, but the shooting pain on his right side and the metallic smell that filled the air told him he needed to go to the nearest hospital.
Mel Thompson knew he had to call in Dr. Lee W. Hickok the moment he saw Spentwood’s wound. The Urology chief resident didn’t like what he saw, but he and Lee W. discovered more ghastly facts when they opened up Spentwood. It was clear that someone had operated on the addict without his knowledge or permission. Someone did a dorsal lumbotomy incision on his right flank. Someone tied off Spentwod’s ureter with a silk suture. Someone wanted him dead.
A dorsal lumbotomy incision is an old technique used to access the kidneys. Interestingly, Spentwood still had his vital organs. He was used to send a message. The message was left deep in the wound, a scalpel foil packet embossed with two words—THE PLUMBER.
Urologists are frequently called the plumbers of the medical world. Thompson and Lee W. had no doubt the culprit knew the ins and outs of surgery, but who would commit such a crime in Galveston, Texas? Spentwood was only the opening salvo. Several others followed in a short course of time, all junkies from the dregs of society. Unlike Spentwood, the other victims were missing at least a kidney. What urologist would do such a thing?
As one of the experts in the field, Lee W. had to find the Plumber before he—or she—did another heinous crime. Should he tell the detectives about one of their residents, Kathryn Briar? Kathryn made up stories about a three-year-old daughter that didn’t exist. One day, Lee W. discovered a dark green substance inside Kathryn’s bag. The bottle’s label was peeled off, but if Lee W.’s suspicion was correct, that substance didn’t belong anywhere near Kathryn’s bag. But did any of those make her a suspect?
In another part of Galveston, Dr. Malcolm Leary ran his own urology world with precision, demanding nothing less of perfection from his staff. And while Bach and Beethoven quietly played in the background, the esteemed doctor did his preferred dorsal lumbotomy incisions. Was the man heartless, or was he too a victim under his antiseptic façade?
Lynes’s skillful storytelling prowess is evident in The Plumber. He uses medical terms and procedures to add authenticity to the story without compromising readability. In the end, the reader takes away a meaningful realization: no matter how sacred the Hippocratic Oath, doctors are human beings who can play God or devil’s advocate.
Reviews and What Readers Say
" Once I started reading it - couldn’t bare to put it down until finished .Interesting and fast moving medical mystery - the third Lee W novel I’ve read by this author. Good read. "
— Jack Flemmings, Amazon Readers Review
" While this book is well written I found it hard to get into too much medical information although it was well explained."
— Wee Scot, Amazon Readers Review
The Plumber: A Lee W. Hickok Novel by William Lynes
Review by A. Alcott
Disclosure: This article is a personal endorsement of the professional reviewer. The BookWalker is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
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William Lynes, MD, is a retired physician, urologist, and speaker. His Pirates, Scoundrels, and Kings is a fantasy/adventure story set in a medieval world. The award-winning Luger Rounds is a medical mystery. His Lee W. Hickok novels include 606 University, Sweet Amber, The Plumber, and his newest novel Huntsville. A Surgeon's Knot will soon be released. Dr. Lynes lives in Temecula, California, with his wife, Patrice.