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The Oath (Dismas Hardy) Hardcover – January 14, 2002
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Bad medicine makes good plotting in John Lescroart's latest, which brings back lawyer Dismas Hardy and his best friend, homicide cop Abe Glitsky. A string of suspicious deaths at a San Francisco HMO don't look like murder at first--until Tim Markham, the head of the HMO, dies from injuries received in a hit-and-run accident. But did the injuries really kill him? Glitsky believes that Hardy's client, Dr. Eric Kensing, killed his boss. Kensing had at least two good reasons: not only was Markham having an affair with his wife, but his cost- cutting restrictions were threatening the lives of Kensing's patients. Kensing is a bit too heroic for the reader to ever believe in him as a suspect, and the real murderer is pretty obvious from the get-go, which cuts down the suspense. Still, the reappearance of Glitsky and Hardy will be welcomed by Lescroart's many fans, who'll be delighted with the widowed cop's new wife and new life and happy to see the guys back in familiar if well-trodden territory. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
With their reputation for rolling up hefty profits while doling out penny-pinching care, HMOs have emerged as a favorite villain of crime writers. Lescroart gets in his licks with this scalpel-sharp thriller, the ninth in the Dismas Hardy line. This time around, the San Francisco attorney finds himself representing Dr. Eric Kensing, who stands accused of murdering his boss, Tim Markham, the CEO of the Parnassus Medical Group, a struggling HMO providing health services to all the city's employees. An autopsy shows that Markham, hospitalized in critical condition following a hit-and-run, died not of his injuries but of a potassium overdose. It doesn't look good for Kensing. Not only was he the doctor on duty, but he had plenty of motive; his wife was having an affair with Markham. As police investigators, led once again by Lt. Abe Glitsky, home in on Kensing, the case veers in another direction. The police discover that Markham is actually the 12th person to have been killed recently while under Parnassus's care. And Kensing can't be blamed for all of them. The investigation leads police and Hardy to a multitude of suspects, most connected to Parnassus's zeal for ruthless cost cutting. Burdened at times by Hardy's musings and a few awkwardly placed clues, Lescroart's latest featuring the cunning, self-effacing attorney and dedicated family man is still a skillfully researched and executed piece of work. The author wisely steers clear of taking cheap shots at the HMO industry, yet manages to direct a sharp beam into some of its darker crevices. Fans of the popular series should know that there are no courtroom scenes, unusual for the trial-prone Hardy, but Lescroart manages to squeeze in almost every member of his usual large and always entertaining cast. (Feb. 4)Forecast: The reliably excellent Lescroart carries on, delivering yet another winner. A massive ad/promo campaign including the simultaneous release of the paperback edition of The Hearing, a 10-city author tour and a one-day laydown should swell the already well-populated ranks of his fans.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
First off, the subject matter of The Oath in of itself is old hat and boring. It's been done and overdone a hundred times over in TV dramas and full feature length movies. But I can certainly accept the fact that Lescroart wants to give us his own rendition. Yet the rendition adds nothing new and the characters are totally unconvincing. Dismas Hardy and Abe Glitsky seem to be frozen in time, never growing, never changing, something that does not happen with real like characters. And the players in this particular story seem to be forcibly drawn together into a story that lacks substance or interest. The only character that I can remotely sympathise with is Dr. Kensing, who due to his unfortunate past and rigid principles becomes ensnared in a drama that is outside his control.
This hopeless melange is such a contrast to the beautifully written and cast Hard Evidence. A novel that to this day I go back and re-read when I find nothing else on the store shelf to interest me.
Added to this is Lescroart's sloppiness. In The Hearing a character that was killed and buried in very beginning of the novel suddenly reappears near the end of the novel. This was not supposed to a surprise element, as some readers thought when they read my review of that novel, just plain old sloppy writing.
In The Oath, Dismas Hardy is clearly in John Strout's office visiting the coroner, when suddenly we are informed by John Lescroart that "Strout closed the stiletto again, then stood up and walked over to the floor-to-ceiling bookshelf that lined Hardy's left hand wall". Hardly's ? I though he was in John Strout's office, where did we get Hardy's left hand wall ? And this type of sloppy writing appears right throughout the book.
This in of itself would not be such a big deal other than a clear indication that when Lescroart is bored with his story he gets sloppy. I think we can all understand that. Which obviously begs the question why are we the poor readers being foisted with a book that the author seems to have little use for ?
Last year Phillip Margolin, an acclaimed practitioner of the legal thriller genre, took to the medico-legal mystery genre with "The Associate", & close on its heels comes this new thriller from John Lescroart. The Oath can at best be described as a medico-legal mystery, the author having mixed in right proportion the medical stuff & the legalese to bring up a top-notch thriller.
Tim Markham the head of San Francisco's largest HMO dies seemingly of injuries suffered in a hit-&-run accident. At first, it is classified as an accidental death, but the autopsy reveals that Markham died due to potassium overdose.
All evidence points to Markham's attending physician Eric Kensing. It seems that Kensing had every reason to kill Markham - for one thing, Markham was sleeping with Kensing's wife & for another, Markham had threatened to cut off funding to Kensing's patients, thus putting the life of the patients at risk.
Kensing approaches attorney Dismas Hardy, (the hero of many Lescroart works) & Hardy attempts to clear the good doctor of murder, & bring home the guilt on the real culprits.
Pitted against him is Homicide Cop Abe Glitsky who believes that Kensing is guilty & is trying hard for a conviction. What follows is top-notch action with Hardy discovering unpleasant truths in the running of HMO, & slowly discovering why & how Kensing was made a pawn in someone's bigger plans.
The Oath is definitely not a whodunit - but it is a great whydunit. The suspense is riveting & the action is thick & steady throughout. Good medico-legal thrillers have been rare, save for a Fourth Procedure by Stanley Pottinger or Autopsy by John R. Feegel, & The Oath clearly satisfies the reader who is fond of this sub-genre.
I enjoyed it, & for a good evening's read - it is highly recommended.
As usual, Lescroart's plotting, characterization, and dialogue are excellent. However, what sets this book apart from his previous work, is the emotional reactions it creates. Reading THE OATH is very similar to watching two best friends fight and not being able to do anything about it. Glitsky, San Francisco Chief of Homocide, and Hardy, ex-District Attorney turned brilliant defense counsel, are at odds over the guilt or innocence of Dr. Eric Kensing, the prime suspect in the murder of the CEO of a high profile but financially troubled physicians' medical group.
Throughout the book, the reader can only passively stand by while Glitsky and Hardy present their points of view and reveal their own personality traits and unique perspectives. Lescroart masterfully introduces and develops several suspects and motives in this complex, multi-layered legal puzzle. However, the concern for both Hardy and Glitsky is never far away. As the suspense and interest build toward the story's climax I was stunned and begging for answers in the final pages. Thankfully Lescroart provided satisfaction, but you'll have to read this highly recommended thriller to find out how.