Urgent Care

by CJ Lyons

(excellent; top 30% of SciThri)

Year published: 2009
Category: medical thriller; mystery; romantic suspense

Tech rating (out of 5):

SUMMARY (from the back cover):

Angels of Mercy Medical Center charge nurse Nora Halloran has been living with a painful secret for two long years. But when a coworker is brutally assaulted and killed, she knows she can no longer remain silent. Determined to unmask the murderer, Nora teams up with her friends—Lydia, an ER attending doctor with a secret of her own; Gina, the once-cocky resident struggling to strike a balance between her family and her job; and Amanda, the med student caught between her conscience and her career.

As the victim count grows, Nora must face her deepest fears and reveal all her secrets to save the man she loves, and to stop a killer from striking again.


Wow, another CJ Lyons book that I just loved. This is book #3 (of 4) in the Angels of Mercy series which began with Lifelines. (I strongly recommend you start with that book.) All three books in the series so far have some things in common.

  • A cast of four strong women in the medical profession, women with well-developed characters and believable problems & weaknesses;
  • A setting in the ER of a big-city hospital (Pittsburgh) with all the attendant chaos, surprises, and heroism of such a place;
  • A powerful romance subtext with four men, any of whom I’d run away with;
  • Fascinating, accurate, and original medical scenarios;
  • Un-put-downable pacing with interwoven plot lines. Dr. Lyons writes like a movie filmed without any cuts.

Obviously I’m a fan. As a reviewer, however, here are things that might not make this the book for you.  The driving force in Urgent Care is the mystery of who assaulted and murdered the nurse. Violent sexual assault and victimization of women is a dominant theme, and some may find this off-putting. CJ Lyons does not use graphic descriptions as much as many thriller writers (such as Tess Gerritsen or Kathy Reichs) do. On the contrary, her emphasis is on how survivors endure and cope, and the reader is spared forensic detail. This is ultimately a story of a woman’s strength, not her weakness. But there are several emotionally disturbing scenes.

The book has a soap-opera quality to it that may appeal more to women than men. I mean that in a good way; author CJ Lyons describes her work as “thrillers with heart,” by which she means the story is about people and relationships, not just action.

I’ve read a lot of sci/med thrillers so it’s very hard to surprise me, yet this book made me gasp out loud when something totally unexpected—yet not ridiculous—happened in the story. If I needed another reason to bump up into the four-star rating, that clinched it.

Search terms: ECMO; encephalitis; rape kit; Somalia; sleepwalking

Read this book if: you’re a fan of the TV show ER.

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

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