Code Blue

by Richard L. Mabry, M.D.

(good; ~30th percentile for SciThri genre)

Year published: 2010
Category: medical thriller; mystery; series (#1)

Tech rating (out of 5):

SUMMARY {from the back cover}:

For Dr. Cathy Sewell, Code Blue means more than just the cardiac emergencies she faces—it’s the state of her life when the return to her hometown doesn’t bring the peace she so desperately needs. The town doctors resent the fact that she’s not only a newcomer but also a woman, and the devastating results from one of her prescriptions may mean the end of her practice. As two men compete for her affection, an enemy wants her out of town—or possibly even dead.


Code Blue is best described as a “cozy” medical thriller.  “Cozies” are a category of mysteries  epitomized by Murder, She Wrote (Jessica Fletcher of Cabot Cove).  Cozy mysteries generally are set in small towns, feature an educated woman who acts as an amateur sleuth, have a likeable main character, are fast-paced but not action-packed in the style of car chases or the like, and do not portray graphic violence, profanity, or sex.

As such, the notion of a “cozy thriller” is a bit of an oxymoron.  The other science and medical thrillers to which I’m comparing Code Blue are generally action-packed, sometimes graphic, usually big-city or international in focus, and have a more hard-edged feel. Code Blue, therefore, is a book written for a somewhat different audience, and though I give it only two stars, the right reader may enjoy this book very much.

Mabry’s story is set in a small town in Texas, where the heroine grew up.  She has returned to her hometown to set up her first medical practice, as a family physician.  Strapped for cash and emotionally fragile from past romantic disasters, she is soon confronted with hostility from some members of the community who have long memories.

Medical content in this book is accurate and engaging, giving the reader a glimpse of what it’s like to be a compassionate, struggling young family doctor in private practice (a phenomenon that still exists in the South but is dying out in parts of the country dominated by managed care).

Code Blue has strong evangelical Christian themes, fitting with the setting in rural Texas.  Dr. Cathy Sewell struggles with her faith, falls for a preacher’s son, and nobody in the story drinks anything stronger than coffee.  The story has a quaint, somewhat dated feel that may appeal more to an older reader.

The pacing is very good but the overall quality of the writing, plot, and characterization puts Code Blue in my below-average star category.

An enjoyable, quick read with a healthy dose of medical emergencies.

This book may appeal to: fans of the classic TV series Marcus Welby, M.D.

Crossover appeal with: Harlequin Superromance “heart and home” series

Richard Mabry’s “Prescription for Trouble” series:
Code Blue (2010); Medical Error (2010); Diagnosis Death (2011); Lethal Remedy (2011)

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