After The Fall by Patricia Gussin is the fourth and final novel in the Laura Nelson series. Although it can be read as a stand-alone those following the main character will see her life change in many ways. Gussin is able to use her experiences of practicing medicine and working in a pharmaceutical company for twenty-two years to create strong storylines.
Gussin noted that her personal life was involved in many aspects of the plot and the character’s background. “I went to medical school at Wayne State in Detroit during the late 1960’s. These were turbulent times with the riots happening there. There was so much racial animosity that doctors brought guns into the hospital at night. As with Laura when I was going to medical school I had two young children and was from a small town that moved to a big city. Having worked in a pharmaceutical company for so many years I wanted to incorporate into this plot how drugs are developed and how companies must interact with the FDA. But, the traumatic stuff Laura has gone through over the years was not part of my life.”
Dr. Laura is an intriguing character who has had her share of problems, from being raped, to killing the perpratrator, to falling and having a career ending injury. Yet, what readers like most is her ability to move beyond these disasters and come out ahead. In this last book she is able to lead a fulfilling life with a new and successful career as well as having a fiancé, Tim, who is caring and supportive.
There are three different plot lines that come together in the climax. There is the physical injury that ends Dr. Laura’s surgical career, a psychopathic ex-Marine who wants to kill her, and the numerous skeletons in her past she must come to grips with. The plot begins when Laura agrees to become an executive at Keystone Pharma, a company about to release a wonderful new drug, Immunone, for which she helped organize the clinical trials. Meanwhile, FDA project manager Jake Harter is desperate to keep the drug Immunone from being approved, for his own immoral reasons. He hides vital data, and kills to keep his lover, the chief researcher, Adawia Abdul (Abby), from leaving the country. As the three characters lives become intertwined the plot becomes more gripping and riveting.
What is a fascinating part of the book is how Gussin compares and contrasts a number of different issues. The reader is reminded how Abdul’s life in the West is much different than how women are treated in the Middle East. A powerful quote emphasizes this, “American law considers women equal. Sharia law, the basic law of Islam, does not. Women are rated as ‘half a man.’”
Although Tim Robinson and Jake Harter have diverse personalities, they have a parallel path. Both are trying to get the woman they love to accept their marriage proposal. While their desires are similar there is a deep contrast in personality. Tim is a great, caring, and loyal soul mate while Jake is a psychopath who will do anything and everything to make sure he and Abby spend the rest of their lives together.
After The Fall is about family dynamics, how a working mother always puts her family foremost; her job involving medicine, and the psychology behind the different characters desires. This thriller will keep readers turning the pages.
Gussin also gave a heads up about her next book. Since each book takes place seven years apart Dr. Laura will be in her late sixties if brought up to contemporary times. Wanting to have a younger protagonist the author is thinking of having a plot centered on Nelson’s daughter, a plastic surgeon married to an Egyptian doctor. The father abducts his son and takes him back to Egypt, refusing to allow the mother any access. In this novel, Laura might be brought back in an important supporting role, which should make fans happy.