Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Code White, by Scott Britz-Cunningham

Tor/Forge Books, ISBN 9780765331922, April 2013

Ali O'Day is a rising young neurosurgeon, and it's the biggest day of her life. She's about to implant into the brain of a young blind boy the SIPNI device developed in collaboration with her estranged husband Kevin, and her lover Richard Helvelius, the medical center's senior neurosurgeon and Ali's professional mentor. If the device works, Jamie will see again. And then it can be used to repair other neurological damage, restoring for other patients the ability to walk, see, hear--it's a potential technological and medical miracle. Along with SIPNI, Kevin has also developed Odin, an artificial intelligence that provides enhanced information to the the surgeon--along with perhaps quite a bit more. There's film crew to record the surgery for posterity and national news ratings, and everything is focused on the great moment.

While they're in surgery, a "code white" is announced over the PA system. "Code white" is a bomb threat.

The hospital's new security director, Harry Lewton, has been running extensive drills on both the security technology and his security staff, but he hasn't been there long enough to know his staff well yet. He and the FBI agent on the scene have some history together that leaves them unable to fully trust each other.

What none of them knows is that there isn't just one bomb, and the bomber isn't an outsider.

This is a wonderfully written thriller, turning on the well-developed personalities and personal histories of key characters. The development of Ali and Kevin in particular is fascinating. There are real reasons why Kevin fell in love with Ali, and Ali with Kevin. It's not a shallow or superficial relationship--and the reasons for the death of their marriage aren't shallow or superficial, either. They both still remember what brought them together, and still struggle with what drove them apart.

And it's key to how the bomb crisis plays out.

Highly recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.