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Reviewed by Darryl Greer for Readers' Favorite
According to the foreword of Preferential Treatment by Williams Parsons, research indicates that the number of deaths in the United States per year from medical errors is around 250,000, which puts medical malpractice in line only behind heart disease and cancer as the third leading cause of death in America. The author of the foreword, a former president of the West Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, opines that this, coupled with the fact that most US states limit recoveries in medical negligence cases, is a modern-day warning. Against this background, the novel features two former protagonists joining forces: Jack Fabian, a hard-drinking, battle-hardened trial lawyer in plaintiff personal injury cases and Ben Darnell, a recently deposed litigation partner in a firm which specializes in personal injury and medical negligence from the defendants’ side of the fence. Most of the story involves the case of Joe Gunther, the victim of an allegedly botched internal carotid intracranial aneurysm surgery undertaken by a rookie neurosurgeon, Dr. Ancil Montgomery. The doctor, his insurers, loss-adjusters, expert neurosurgeon witness, and his lawyers argue fiercely that there was no negligence involved; Fabian and Darnell argue otherwise. As for Joe, he doesn’t know what’s going on as he has been left more or less a vegetable. The ensuing trial twists and turns its way at breakneck speed to a surprising climax.
There are no evil assassins, no heart-thumping car chases, no superheroes trying to save the world, and no spooks lurking in the shadows but Preferential Treatment is as fast-paced as you get. If you enjoy Robin Cook's medical thrillers, you will love this book. If you enjoy John Grisham legal thrillers, you will love this book too. It is a thrill ride from beginning to end but when the main trial gets underway, the pace really picks up and the pages run hot. It helps that the author, William Parsons, himself a seasoned specialist medical malpractice trial lawyer, describes every step in the case in some detail. It is clear that he has an incredible knowledge of complex surgical procedures. The story is well-structured, perhaps unsurprising for a lawyer, and so vividly described that it is easy to picture every scene. The book is quite insightful, highlighting exactly what can go wrong in complicated surgery, even at the hands of medical personnel who appear to patients and their families as confident and self-assured. Preferential Treatment is a stunning debut novel and highly recommended.