My thanks to Oceanview Publishing for a review copy of this book via Edelweiss.

Misfire (2023) is the second in the Kate Downey series of medical mysteries/thrillers by Tammy Euliano. I read and reviewed the first, Fatal Intent (2022), last year and absolutely loved the story and characters. The book was not only an exciting medical thriller but also brought up the ethical dilemma surrounding the absence of living wills where those who genuinely love the affected person are reluctant to let go, while the unscrupulous are quick to take advantage for property or other gains. It left me eagerly anticipating the next, and Misfire certainly did not disappoint.

The series is set around Kate Downey, an anaesthesiologist (like the author herself) who works at a university hospital in Florida. She lost her husband, an army doctor who fell victim to an IED explosion while deployed and was in a coma for long, while Kate also miscarried on hearing the news. Kate now lives with her eccentric but very lovable great-aunt Irm (also a partner in her mystery solving ventures) and black lab Shadow. In the previous book she met Christian O’Donnell, a lawyer and son of one of the victims, and working with him to solve the mystery, had also developed an interest in him. Christian has suffered a tragedy of his own, having lost his wife and child in a motor accident. There is also Christian’s friend, Lieutenant Garner, a police detective who teams up with them.

Misfire is set around AICDs (automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillators), devices that monitor the heartbeat and deliver an electric impulse when they sense a problem, but sometimes (though rare), they can ‘misfire’ delivering an impulse when not needed causing rather than resolving a heart problem. In the book, Kadence is a version of AICD devices which has the added advantage of enabling the doctor or a loved one to constantly monitor the patient through bluetooth. Invented by a doctor at Kate’s hospital, aunt Irm’s cardiologist and Kate’s friend Nikki Yarborough who works with the device has implanted one in aunt Irm. But when one Kadence after another misfires, Kate begins to worry for her aunt’s safety. Soon it emerges that what is claimed to be a bug in the software that will be resolved soon is not quite that but something far more serious, and Nikki’s life too may be in danger. Kate, Aunt Irm and Christian who is back in town, this time working for a client who is seeking to acquire Kadence, team up once again to get to the bottom of the case and protect the lives endangered in the process.

Once again, Tammy Euliano gives us an exciting mystery, with themes of medical devices and the many people and processes in their invention and commercialization (including intellectual property rights claims), the vulnerabilities that such devices suffer in this age of artificial intelligence despite various approvals and tests, and also the role of corporate greed which is callous about human lives, focusing solely on profits. The device and technology are explained in simple terms, easy for the reader to grasp, something I very much appreciated.

While this isn’t your typical thriller where the protagonists constantly move from one danger to the next, it is certainly an action-packed read with the ‘mystery’ elements moving side by side with the characters’ everyday lives (Kate’ busy hospital schedule in this case) as well as developments in their personal lives as well. Through Kate’s work at the hospital, readers get the flavour of the kind of cases someone in her place has to treat every day, the split-second decisions that have to be made at some points (and indeed the difficult ones), teaching commitments, publishing pressures as also the administrative and official wrangles that must also invariably be navigated (as also endless meetings that seem to lead nowhere).   

That said, the mystery is by no means ‘secondary’ in the book and we have consistent developments and revelations all through which keep one engaged. The whodunit, though, I knew fairly early on (though I wondered once or twice), and if one knows the ‘golden rule’ in these books I suppose this part isn’t that hard to guess. Still, I was keen to find out if the person I’d picked up on was indeed the guilty one.

The characters, both Kate and Christian, but especially aunt Irm are wonderful and very likeable, though I must say that in this book Kate seemed to take chances which one could almost guarantee would get her in trouble and yet not inform Christian or Lieutenant Garber in advance (I did feel for the latter when he is frustrated with Kate). Aunt Irm is hands down my favourite character in these books, with her endless and delicious meals, genuine concern, intelligence and most importantly, ability to read people instantly. On the personal front, Kate and Christian take their relationship a little further though understandably (each having suffered tragedies), they take things slow.

While a second in series, this is a book that can be read as a standalone, though I felt one would enjoy them better if read in order.

A great read, and a book and series I’d highly recommend!

Edition details: Kindle ARC, Oceanview Publishing, 2023 (hardcover; 368 pp); release date 3 January 2023.


7 thoughts on “Book Review: Misfire (2023) by Tammy Euliano

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