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With A Vengeance    by Eileen Dreyer order for
With A Vengeance
by Eileen Dreyer
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2004 (2003)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Everybody always considered Montana Bob just another crazy, except for ER nurse/SWAT medic Maggie O'Brien. Bob gave her flowers once and since then she's had a soft spot for the mentally disturbed former FBI agent. When Bob shoots at two police officers and takes the wounded cop hostage, it's Maggie who takes control of the situation.

She talks Bob down and persuades him to relinquish his weapon, thereby saving her best friend and sometime lover, Sergeant Sean Delaney. As Bob and Sean are transported to hospital for further treatment, Bob warns Maggie that there are murderers on the loose in her hospital and that he's been added to their list of 'troublemakers'. Maggie placates Bob and leaves him in the care of others while checking on Sean, but something goes horribly wrong during Bob's treatment and he dies. Nobody seems overly concerned, but Maggie believes his demise is too suspicious to ignore, particularly after his urgent and oddly coherent warnings of a hospital 'conspiracy'.

Maggie begins investigating others on the list who've ended up dead but hits one road block after another. Her colleagues don't seem overly concerned, claiming the so-called victims had it coming, and that the city is much better off with one less gang banger, pedophile or head case to worry about. Even Sean Delaney, who's always stood by Maggie, suggests she might be overreacting to Bob's delusional claims that a conspiracy is afoot within the St. Louis police and medical community. Realising she's being stonewalled and not liking it, Maggie is more determined than ever to discover who among her colleagues and friends have chosen to play god. Soon her name is added to the infamous list, her co-workers shun her and ultimately those who would see their secret safe set Maggie up as a possible killer.

After delivering an impressive set of thrillers in previous books like If Looks Could Kill, Bad Medicine, A Man to Die For and Nothing Personal, Eileen Dreyer left the writing scene for four years. In this latest medical thriller, With A Vengeance, she's back, well, with a vengeance. A trauma nurse by profession, Ms. Dreyer took her research one step further and spent one week in training at a Tactical EMS School. The result is a gritty, page-turning thriller with a standout lead character in Maggie O'Brien. She's a wonderfully strong, savvy and tough-talking woman who thrives on the adrenalin rush of her dual jobs.

Yet Maggie's personal life is in a shambles after a life-long love/hate relationship with her abusive cop father, Tommy 'the Terminator' O'Brien. Nothing she's ever done has pleased him. What disgusts him most is her refusal to carry a gun while on the job with the SWAT team. She can't even commit to the man in her life, Sean Delaney, who's saved her time and again from many explosive and often physical encounters with her controlling father. With A Vengeance packs a mighty wallop on all levels and fans of action or medical thrillers will appreciate this complicated and very satisfying story. Let's hope Maggie and the rest of the stellar cast return soon in a sequel or two.

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