1999. Returning to practice after a suspension for stealing opioids, a young doctor takes the only job he can find: a post as a physician at the struggling St. Luke’s Hospital in east London.
Amid the maelstrom of sick patients, overworked staff and underfunded wards, a more insidious secret soon declares itself: too many patients are dying.
Sometimes People Die was much more than a medical thriller, it was a lament, a portrait of a doctor overworked, pushed to the edge. A hospital crumbling, unable to recruit, it’s staff overworked underpaid and all this in 1999, but sounds all too familiar in 2022.
It helped that its author was indeed one of those doctors, his medical insight, his emotions and experience more than evident in his nameless narrator. A nameless narrator who took the only position open to him after the shame of a drug addled past.
We entered a world of endless hours on shift. the cardiac arrests, the ill and infirm, and then bam a death, a seemingly ordinary death until it wasn’t. Stephenson put our narrator under the spotlight, his past misdemeanours made him the ideal suspect, but there were others that stood out, that could so easily have been the culprit.
As our narrator sweated, the relentless shifts continued but Stephenson threw in some memorable characters, my favourite Felix, a drug addict with a heart condition who became the bane of our young doctors life. George the flat mate, affable, chilled, his girlfriend Amelia, the doctor with all the answers. There was student nurse Louise, eager as a young puppy to do well.
As the true extent of the deaths hit the hospital, Stephenson skilfully played around with his suspects, dangled them in front of us before taking them away.
When, at last you thought it was wrapped up, Stephenson through a spanner in the works, our narrator determined to finally discover the truth.
I somehow knew who it would be but the journey there was thrilling, immersive and as someone who loves anything medical, addictive.
The only thing Stephenson needs to do to now is get some TV rights, some fantastic actors and we would have a fantastic drama.
I would like to thank Borough Press for a copy of Sometimes People Fie to read and review and Midas PR for inviting My Bookish blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
I am from Edinburgh in Scotland, but live now in Los Angeles. I have had stopovers along the way in London and San Francisco.
I’m a writer and screenwriter, and before I became a full-time writer I was a physician.
My new novel, ‘Sometimes People Die’ will be published in September 2022.
I have written two other books. ‘Set My Heart To Five’ came out in 2020. The Washington Post review said that I might be ‘Vonnegut’s first true protege’. You’d better believe I am going to be dining out on that for the rest of my life.
‘Let Not the Waves Of the Sea’, my memoir about losing my brother came out in 2012. It won Best First Book at the Scottish Book Awards, and was serialized on BBC Radio 4.
I’ve worked as a writer on various films including Pixar’s LUCA, PADDINGTON 2, and my own THE ELECTRICAL LIFE OF LOUIS WAIN. Like every other screenwriter in Hollywood, I have a bottom drawer full of unproduced scripts and forgotten promises. So it goes.