by Scott Britz-Cunningham
One of the great things about thrillers is that there are so many different kinds! There are crime thrillers, medical thrillers, religious thrillers, techno-thrillers, and many more. Most thrillers tend to fall into one category, but I’ve just read a notable debut that has elements of all four listed above!
Code White is an impressive first effort from medical doctor Scott Britz-Cunningham. The entire novel takes place in the course of a single day, making for a propulsive plot. At the heart of the tale is Chicago neurosurgeon Ali O’Day. She is one of a team of doctors who are attempting to make medical history—and are having it documented live on a national morning television show. They are using a new technology called SIPNI, short for Self-Integrating Prosthetic Neural Implant, to try to restore the sight of a blind child. During the operation, there’s an overhead announcement, “Mr. White, please report to security.” A nurse explains that it’s a security code, “It’s a bomb. A bomb in the hospital.”
Readers don’t have to wait long to find out who the mastermind of the plot is. It’s not a who-done-it, or even really a why-done-it, but more like a will-they-stop-it? Isn’t that always the way with bombs? So, in one corner you have your dedicated doctors trying to save an adorable child, in another you have your mad bomber, and then you have law enforcement. In this novel, that comes in many forms. The threat is first identified by the hospital’s head of security, Harry Lewton, but soon enough both the Chicago PD and the FBI are added to the mix. They do not help matters.
It is the unassuming Lewton who is the novel’s most appealing character. Character development is
The plotting is clever and, as you can imagine, fast-paced, especially as the clock ticks down. There’s a significant amount of science, covering both medicine and technology, interspersed throughout the novel. It’s smart and interesting. Exposition is handled well. And then there’s the question of why I titled this review the way I did. You’ll see. Blending so many types of thriller together strikes me as a difficult thing to pull off. It shouldn’t work. But Britz-Cunningham does manage to pull it off. This isn’t a perfect novel, but it’s an impressive debut, and well-worth checking out.