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Investigating the mysterious death of a young Mayan boy with a blue-crescent moon tattoo on his chest, pediatric E.R. physician Luke McKenna discovers that the death is linked to an illness spreading through the tribal villages of Central America and to the demons of his own dark past, secrets that bring him and the woman he loves face to face with a nightmare. A first novel. Original.
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In this solid debut thriller, a troubled doctor gets caught up in a global conspiracy after a mysteriously afflicted four-year-old Guatemalan boy dies on his watch. Pediatric ER physician Luke McKenna's curiosity is piqued when it seems the child's symptoms don't match any known disease; he's more intrigued, however, when hospital administrators and Guatemalan officials whisk away the child's body before McKenna can perform a postmortem investigation. While trying to beat back haunting, at times debilitating memories of his time in a shadowy military organization, McKenna continues to pursue the child's case, attracting the attention of a professional killer and the men behind him. It isn't until McKenna's framed for the murders of a former girlfriend and a football player that the good doctor becomes certain a conspiracy's afoot. From there, McKenna's on the run, using his old military training and contacts, as well as his medical expertise, to evade the cops and killers, get to Guatemala, try to uncover the forces he's up against and face his personal demons. Despite some clunky expository dialogue (practically a genre requisite) and a disappointing ending, Hawley delivers intense action, tricky plotting and an unpredictable hero sure to satisfy anyone with an appetite for a good page-turner. (Mar.)
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“Stigma is the thriller debut of the year. Hawley is a huge new talent on the thriller scene!” (David J. Montgomery, Chicago Sun-Times)
“A rare combination of taut plotting and brilliant writing. Sit back and enjoy. Phil Hawley is for real.” (Ridley Pearson)
“Watch out Michael Crichton! High-concept storytelling, non-stop action, terrific plotting...the thriller world has an authentic new voice.” (John Lescroat)
“Stigma pulses with tension and drama. Philip Hawley has written a top-notch thriller!” (Tess Gerritsen)
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