In the new Dr. Harry Kent thriller, a follow-up to 2016's The Hollow Men, a whistleblowing doctor commits suicide—or so it seems. When it turns out to be murder, Harry digs deeper to uncover the truth, in this mix of detective novel and medical drama.
Rob McCarthy is a fantastic author who has a knack for writing meaty characters. Harry’s spiral and the fact that very young children are involved in this case give the story a lot of emotional heft. It doesn’t hurt that McCarthy is a medical student, so the medical details ring true. While it would certainly be better to read The Hollow Men first, new readers can jump in here with no problem—although you’ll certainly want to know a little more about Harry and Frankie’s fraught relationship. There are lots of plot threads floating around here, but McCarthy weaves them all together with ease while building unbearable suspense all the way to the very emotional finale.
...a case that McCarthy steadily complicates with a steadier hand than was evident in The Hollow Men, which was slow to reach its proper cruising speed. A Handful of Ashes is a faster, surer book in every way, with major and minor characters fleshed out with economic precision, and the pacing compulsively ratchets up as the book progresses. Even the one plot-thread that at first seems extraneous—the comatose woman Zara—becomes the touchstone for the book's absolutely harrowing final scene. With this novel an earnest but fairly standard crime fiction novel at once becomes a seriously impressive series.
Rob McCarthy, himself a medical student in London, knows the ins and out of medical profession intimately. The grit and level of detail presented in his narratives shape the foundation of good story and his character development effort is admirable. The depth and sophistication of character development in this series can only be fully observed by starting the series with its first installment although A Handful of Ashes can be read as a stand-alone novel. Overall, Rob McCarthy is a new voice to watch and this title makes a good companion for fans of medical thrillers.