Thursday, September 30, 2010

Code Triage by Candace Calvert

book cover

Code Triage
by Candace Calvert

ISBN-13: 978-1-4143-2545-3
Trade Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House
Released: October 2010

Author Website

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
Dr. Leigh Stathos likes her ER shifts fast, furious, and adrenaline-infused—“Treat ’em and street ’em”—with no emotional complications. Life’s taught her a soul-rending lesson: nothing lasts forever, including marriage. And the clock is ticking toward the end of hers. Then an unwelcome confrontation with “the other woman” begins a whole new set of lessons.

San Francisco police officer Nick Stathos never gives up, whether protecting his patrol neighborhood, holding fast to faith—or trying to save his marriage. Seven days is all he has to reach Leigh’s heart. But when a desperate act of violence slams Golden Gate Mercy Hospital into lockdown, it starts a chain of events that will change lives forever.

Code Triage is a medical suspense novel that will appeal to both men and women. The author dug into the deeper issues of how three different childhoods created three people with different expectations about love and marriage and how that threatened to tear apart Leigh and Nick's marriage. This book is for anyone who wonders if marriage can last for a lifetime.

You don't need to read Critical Care or Disaster Status to understand this story, and you can read this novel first without spoiling your enjoyment of her previous novels. However, Leigh's story starts in Disaster Status, so you'll enjoy this series the most if you read them in order.

The author has a fondness for symbolism, and she's getting ever better at skillfully weaving it into her stories. The world-building was excellent. The details about the stables/horse troubles and the ER brought the story alive in my imagination without slowing the fast pacing. The tension remained high throughout the story. The suspense was created through the medical emergencies, the physical danger during the crisis, and the relationship tensions between Leigh, Nick, and Samantha.

The characters were interesting, complex, and realistic. They faced realistic problems in their work and in their relationships. I felt like this story really could have happened.

Several of the main characters were Christians, one of whom felt like she couldn't trust God (or humans) to be there for her. Through circumstances, she learned that the burden of making relationships endure wasn't centered on her shoulders. The novel wasn't preachy. While it will probably appeal most to Christians, I think most non-Christians wouldn't be bothered by how the religious content was worked into the story.

There was no sex. There was a very minor amount of "he swore" style bad language. Overall, I'd highly recommend this novel and the whole series as exciting, well-written, clean reading.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
Don’t drop that baby; don’t—

Heart pounding, Officer Nick Stathos slammed the door of his car and sprinted toward the police perimeter, gaze riveted on the panicky young mother at the window of the second-story apartment. She clutched her infant against her baggy navy scrubs and leaned farther out to stare at the scene below: police officers, neighbors in pajamas and robes, patrol cars, a fire truck and ambulance. Lights sliced red-white-blue through the grayness of the late September morning.

She craned her head backward, and her eyes, mascara-streaked and desperate, followed the San Francisco PD helicopter hovering above the shabby, converted pink Victorian. Nick hoped that methamphetamines, once Kristi Johnson’s drug of choice, weren’t at the root of today’s drama. She’d been allowed to keep her kids after a previous skirmish, and he knew how rare the mercy of a second chance was. He’d been praying for one in his marriage for the better part of a year.

He jogged forward through a gathering crowd of reporters, flashed his badge at the first in a line of officers, then slowed to a walk. The mother lifted the baby to her shoulder and disappeared from view, then returned to lean over the windowsill again. The baby’s legs dangled limply as she fought with the tattered curtain, and Nick winced at a childhood memory of eggs dropped from a highway overpass. A baby’s skull wouldn’t have a chance against concrete. Dispatch had to be wrong—Kristi wouldn’t neglect her kids. Could never harm them. He knew the girl; he’d patrolled her Mission District neighborhood for nearly five years.

“Stathos, don’t waste your time.” A uniformed officer, a paunchy veteran he recognized from the Tenderloin station, stepped forward, raising his voice over the dull thwoop-thwoop of chopper blades. He exhaled around a toothpick clenched between his teeth, breath reeking of coffee, cigarettes, and bacon. “SWAT’s on the way.” He glanced up at the window and shook his head. “911 call from a four-year-old, and now Mom—one Kristina Marie Johnson, twenty-two years old—is refusing to let us do a welfare check. Landlord informed us she has a gun in there. Says the boyfriend deals meth.”

“Gun?” Nick growled low in his throat. “Let me guess: same landlord who’s been trying to evict her? Think he could have a reason to lie?” He watched the window. “There’s no gun. The boyfriend’s under a restraining order and long gone. I’ll talk to her.”

“She’s not talking; that’s the trouble.” The officer crossed his arms. “Her kid told dispatch she and the baby were left alone all night. That they were ‘real sick.’ You should hear the tape; it’ll rip your heart out. Said she’d been ‘singing to Jesus’ all night to keep from being scared. Begged for someone to find her mommy. Then Mom shows up a few minutes before we get here and won’t let us in. Child Crisis is on the way. The medics need to check those kids.”

“So I’ll talk to her.” Nick pushed past him.

“You can’t fix this one, Stathos. Give it up.”

Nick looked back over his shoulder. “You don’t know me very well. I don’t give up.” His jaw tensed. “Ever.”

The officer shook his head, eyes skimming over Nick’s jeans and hooded USF sweatshirt. “Think you’d come up with a better way to spend a free Friday, but go ahead and knock yourself out. Colton’s in charge. Fill him in, and—”

They both looked up as Kristi Johnson shouted.

“Officer Nick! Don’t let them take my babies! Tell them I’m clean now. You know I am. Tell them I would never . . .” She shut her eyes and groaned. “This is all a mistake. My girlfriend sleeps over while I work nights at the nursing home. She comes over after her swing shift. Always gets here fifteen minutes after I leave.” Her brows drew together. “They’re only alone for fifteen minutes; that’s all, I swear. I had them tucked into bed, but I guess she didn’t show up last night. I didn’t know!” She shifted the baby in her arms and his legs swung again, floppy as a home-sewn doll’s.

Read the rest of chapter one.


CandaceCalvert said...

So honored by this thoughtful and thorough review. Thank you so very much.


Genre Reviewer said...


You're welcome. Thank you for writing a great book, and thanks to your publisher for sending me a review copy.

As always, I look forward to your next novel. If I'm guessing correctly which character will carry over (Riley), it sounds like you'll have a mystery as well as medical suspense and romance. :)

Laura Fabiani said...

It's good to see a book about trying to keep a marriage together when most books are about a betrayed mate finding new love. Sounds like a great read!

Melinda Lancaster said...

What a wonderful review.
Critical Care was the first Christian fiction book I ever read. I'm looking forward to this last book in the series.

Genre Reviewer said...


I agree--novels like Code Triage are a refreshing change!


It's great that you took a chance on Critical Care and enjoyed it. In my opinion, her novels just keep getting better and better. :)