Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Practice Baby, by L.M. Ardor

Critical Mass/Saint Copy PR, ISBN 9781925579994, October 2018

Dee Flanery is a gp, with three kids, an ex-husband who has remarried and had twins, and a thriving practice whose patients include Tom, the first of her "practice babies," a person who has been her patient since birth, now in his mid-twenties. He's on the autism spectrum, calls himself "an Aspie," and has a tendency to be obsessive in ways that benefit both his career as a computer security expert, and the management of his potentially dangerous asthma.

When Tom doesn't show up for an appointment, it's out of character and very worrying. His mother doesn't always have the best judgment, but is a devoted mother, and when she can't get the police to take her missing persons report seriously, she asks Dee to help.

When they finally get the police to do, what in the US is called a wellness check, though I didn't see that term in this book set in Australia, Tom is dead. A man who was obsessive about managing his asthma has apparently died of an asthma attack.
Dee doesn't believe it. Tom's girlfriend, Leah, with whom he was planning to have a baby, also does not believe it.

With the police unwilling to investigate--the autopsy came back with a finding of natural causes, so there's from their viewpoint nothing to investigate, Dee and a mutual friend of Dee and Tom, Raj, another computer security expert and Tom's former employer, decide they have to do it on their own.

But where to start? What's the motive? Tom had a large insurance policy, but the beneficiaries are Leah and Tom's severely autistic brother Charlie. Skye is a loving, devoted mother, and Leah shows every sign of being someone who genuinely doesn't care about money.

Then Leah disappears. And Skye's live-in boyfriend, Glen, seems devoted to Skye, but might well think of that money as potentially taking the burden of Charlie's care off of Sophie and himself.

Yet there's also the genetics researcher who helps couples with the money to have genetically healthy babies. Tom and Leah had been seeing him, on a referral from Dee, because while a baby with Tom's issues is one thing, a severely autistic child like Charlie is another. Adam Fairborn is the best there is for what they want, even if he is rather cold and lacking in people skills.

And Tom, with his obsessiveness and attention to detail, decided to check Fairborn out. Leah, before she vanished, suggested he'd found something troubling.

There's a lot going on here, and I haven't even touched on Dee and Raj, or Dee and her children. Or the police who don't really take a female professional with relevant expertise on the medical condition of the deceased seriously.

It's interesting and worth a read.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher, and am reviewing it voluntarily.