When HMO executive Tim Markham is hit by a car during a morning jog through his exclusive San Francisco neighborhood, he has the bad luck to be transported to one of his own hospitals . . . and winds up dead in his ICU bed. But in spite of the rumors about his company's substandard care, this death appears to be a case of malice, not of malpractice—especially after Markham's entire family is gunned down in their home.
Lt. Abe Glitsky has strong suspicions about a doctor with opportunity, means, and motives to spare. But working up a case against Eric Kensing might not be easy, especially when Glitsky has to rely on two bumbling rookies to gather the evidence. When defense attorney Dismas Hardy takes Kensing on as a client, both Glitsky and Hardy have to worry not only about losing the case, but about losing a best friend as well. And as the investigation leads to something bigger than they expected, they may both be in danger of losing their lives as well. . .
With their reputation for rolling up hefty profits while doling out penny-pinching care, HMOs have emerged as a favorite villain of crime writers. Lescroart gets in his licks with this scalpel-sharp thriller, the ninth in the Dismas Hardy line. This time around, the San Francisco attorney finds himself representing Dr. Eric Kensing, who stands accused of murdering his boss, Tim Markham, the CEO of the Parnassus Medical Group, a struggling HMO providing health services to all the city's employees. An autopsy shows that Markham, hospitalized in critical condition following a hit-and-run, died not of his injuries but of a potassium overdose. It doesn't look good for Kensing. Not only was he the doctor on duty, but he had plenty of motive; his wife was having an affair with Markham. As police investigators, led once again by Lt. Abe Glitsky, home in on Kensing, the case veers in another direction. The police discover that Markham is actually the 12th person to have been killed recently while under Parnassus's care. And Kensing can't be blamed for all of them. The investigation leads police and Hardy to a multitude of suspects, most connected to Parnassus's zeal for ruthless cost cutting. Burdened at times by Hardy's musings and a few awkwardly placed clues, Lescroart's latest featuring the cunning, self-effacing attorney and dedicated family man is still a skillfully researched and executed piece of work. The author wisely steers clear of taking cheap shots at the HMO industry, yet manages to direct a sharp beam into some of its darker crevices. Fans of the popular series should know that there are no courtroom scenes, unusual for the trial-prone Hardy, but Lescroart manages to squeeze in almost every member of his usual large and always entertaining cast.