Friday, June 28, 2013

An Open Heart by Harry Kraus, MD

Noted heart surgeon Jace Rawlings is back in Kenya, his childhood home. Son of missionaries, he has forsaken their faith and made a success of himself in the U. S. But is he back in Africa because of his desire to bring healing to those who would otherwise receive it, or is he running?

Through emergency surgery, Jace had saved the Virginia governor's life, but in the process had become too close to the governor's beautiful wife. And then Jace was in an automobile accident. The governor's wife had been with him and had subsequently been killed. Jace remembers nothing of that night. Does he have true amnesia or is he just protecting himself?

When an autopsy reveals that she had been drugged and had recently had sex, all suspicions turn to Jace. Heather, Jace's wife, receives a copy of the autopsy sent anonymously. Still back in Virginia, she had refused to go to Africa with Jace. She didn't know if she could trust him – the late nights, the lipstick on his shirt collar.

Jace experiences many cultural differences that jeopardizes his heart surgery plans. When he does perform some surgeries, his patients have messages for him. Messages from beyond this world. And then it becomes clear that someone is out to murder Jace.

This novel is different from the others I've read by Kraus. Rather than a medical thriller, this novel is more of a novel about the cultural experiences of a doctor in Kenya and the loyalty between wife and husband. The action in the novel is interspersed with back flashes, from both recent history (with the governor) and from childhood. The history behind Jace's current actions are very slowly revealed. I was expecting the same kind of action I found in Kraus' previous medical thrillers but this one is much, much slower and longer.

Kraus notes in the discussion questions that he himself was currently working at Kijabe Hospital so much of what he has included in this book comes from his current experience. It also appears (Question 8) that he was born in Kenya so Jace's childhood experiences may have come from the author's as well.

Harry Kraus, M.D. is a board-certified surgeon, medical missionary to East Africa, and accomplished writer of both non-fiction and fiction. Harry resides in Kenya with his wife Kris and the youngest of their three sons. Find out more at

David C. Cook, 448 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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