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Greenleaf Book Group
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Code Crisis
This fast-paced thriller that follows a lonely gynecologist who risks everything for love and his country will engage you until its final, explosive scene. Dr. Vince DeLuca would normally take a Tito’s straight up with two olives after a ruptured ectopic pregnancy nearly flatlined a patient. Maybe follow it up with a one-night stand to chase away memories of the trauma that’s kept his life stagnant for so long. But when he overhears one of his recovering patients—married to the CEO of a defense contractor—mumbling about “stingers,” “revenge,” and her affair with a mysterious man named Salaam, Vince’s PTSD alights. Sure, it could just be the ramblings of a woman on too much morphine, or she could be talking about the missing anti‑aircraft weapons he read about and a highly sought-after terrorist. Vince decides to leave it to the FBI, not suspecting that they would send him Carolyn, a drop-dead gorgeous, slightly insane CIA agent who needs his help. Vince is soon thrown into the fray and finds himself both utterly in love and using everything he ever learned in his medical career—including how to clamp a subclavian artery with a zip tie—to help home in on the terrorists’ plot, but not before they discover him and come looking for blood.
Blending the thriller genre with a welcome sense of everyday reality and a splash of romance, the debut from Purpura, an obstetrician-gynecologist, creates verisimilitude by drawing on a world he knows well to ground a tense, twisty, high-stakes adventure. The charming Dr. Vince DeLuca, a gynecologist at the Santa Barbara Community Hospital, is smart and snarky, and knows his way around the hospital. But when one of his patients hands him the name and number of a mysterious arms dealer, Vince is thrown into a world of missiles, arms, and terror attacks. And at the center of it all is Carolyn, a drop-dead gorgeous CIA agent who threatens to topple his entire world. Will Vince survive this foray into uncharted territory?

Right off the bat, Purpura sets the scene of a typical day at the hospital, and establishes, with telling detail and crisp prose, the dynamics of its various constituents, from doctors to nurses to patients. But within the first few pages, the story shifts from what seems a typical hospital drama, to something more thrilling. The medical material is convincing, of course, but Purpura’s descriptions of the tradework, attitudes, and shoptalk of the CIA, FBI, and international outfits like Al Qaeda also ring true, suggesting a gritty, messy reality.

That verisimilitude helps sell some plot twists that might strain credulity, especially when several come in quick succession, not always leaving readers time to recover from one jolt before the next. Still, Purpura’s inviting voice, witty characters, persuasive milieu, and fast-moving—even hurtling—plot ensure readers are hooked till the very end. Despite the global conflicts at its heart, Code Crisis is often funny, even charming, with asides about the misery of cooking for one or the possibility that the government “must have some hidden kick-ass woman factory near Quantico and Langley.” That doesn’t slow the action or suspense, though. Lovers of fast-paced thrillers will look forward to more from Purpura.

Takeaway: This action-packed thriller debut pits a doctor and a CIA agent against a terrorist plot.

Great for fans of: Daniel Kalla, Peter Palmieri’s Blood Moon.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A-