Latest book review: Critical Condition by CJ Lyons

by CJ Lyons

(out of 5 stars)

Year published: 2010
Category: medical thriller; romantic suspense; series (Angels of Mercy #4 of 4)

Tech rating (out of 5):

SUMMARY (from the back cover):

With Pittsburgh snarled by a New Year’s Eve blizzard and Angels of Mercy Medical Center cut off from the outside, staff and patients are at the mercy of armed gunmen. One of the hostages is Dr. Gina Freeman, who is holding vigil over her wounded fiancé, Jerry Boyle. Trapped inside with her are ER charge nurse Nora Halloran and fourth-year medical student Amanda Mason, on the last night of her rotation—if not her life. Stranded outside the hospital walls is ER physician Lydia Fiore, whose past holds the secret the hit men are willing to kill for.

With patients, staff, and loved ones held captive, the power out, and cold-blooded killers in control, it’s possible no one will live to see the New Year…


Author CJ Lyons pitches Critical Condition as “Die Hard in a hospital”.  I don’t need to tell you any more about the plot than that, because this comparison accurately sums it up. One key difference is women are the tough-as-nails heroes, not Bruce Willis. This is a fast-paced thriller that fulfills all the expectations of the genre, and as usual I found Dr. Lyons’ style a pleasure to read.

For you hospital-based thriller junkies out there, you’ll love the clever ways our heroines use the resources of a major medical center to foil their attackers’ plan. (No spoilers!)

Be alert, however, that Critical Condition is the fourth and final installment in CJ Lyons’ “Angels of Mercy” series, that began with Lifelines. You should not bother reading Critical Condition until you’ve read the other three books, or at a minimum, Lifelines (book 1) and Urgent Care (book 3). While it’s a well-constructed story, what makes this series shine is the wonderful characters Lyons created. You really must know and love them to fully appreciate book 4.

The Angels of Mercy series is set in the gritty emergency room of a Pittsburgh hospital. Each of the four books emphasizes one of the four women of Angels: Lydia Fiore, a new attending physician with a troubled past; Amanda Mason, a medical student transplanted from the South who cares deeply about her patients; Nora Halloran, the head nurse in the ER, whose personal tragedy is the subject of Urgent Care; and Gina Freeman, a medical resident (doctor) who despite her privileged upbringing is plagued by selfishness and doubt.

All four books feature wonderful glimpses of crazy things that really do happen in ERs. Through the series, romances evolve for all four women to a most satisfying conclusion.

Lifelines (#1) is probably the best book of the bunch. By the time you finish it, you’ll be so hooked on the characters that you’ll willingly tolerate any shortcomings in the later volumes. I for one am sorry that this series of tales is now over.

CJ Lyons’ Angels of Mercy series:
Lifelines (2008); Warning Signs (2009); Urgent Care (2009); Critical Condition (2010)

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