The Seven Trials of Cameron-Strange, by James Calum Campbell, is the second book in the author’s crime thriller series featuring Dr Alastair Cameron-Strange, a medical practitioner with a history of attracting trouble. When the story opens he is in court facing a charge of manslaughter following the death of a patient. There are ethical dilemmas to explore but also a mystery surrounding the patient’s identity. The timeline then moves back a few months to explain how the doctor ended up in this situation.
Cameron-Strange has returned to his home country of New Zealand following the events recounted in the first book in the series. He hopes for a fresh start but is followed by two men working for the British government and with whom he has a history. They wish him to look into the death of a British man who collapsed whilst taking part in a reality TV show. The show is run by a company owned by Phineas Fox, a controversial American business tycoon seeking a presidential nomination. Fox is building a luxury hotel complex in New Zealand and much of the show is filmed on land surrounding this.
Fox brings to mind Donald Trump, whilst Cameron-Strange possesses abilities and a detachment reminiscent of James Bond. Making the protagonist a doctor rather than a spook or detective adds an interesting twist to what is a slick and fast moving thriller. His medical training is used to good effect in plot development, whilst the medical details make for fascinating reading. Cameron-Strange is a likeable maverick with his refusal to bow to those who expect subservience.
As well as being a doctor, Cameron-Strange is a qualified pilot and considers aircraft as some view cars. He is also a runner and his level of fitness is significant in surviving the trials he must face. The wily Fox invites him into his lair, believing that everyone has a price or may be coerced. He knows that the doctor is investigating his activities but believes he can retain control as he toys with his prey.
There are beautiful women and rescue missions yet somehow the cliches of the genre are avoided. Cameron-Strange makes choices that will put him in danger yet never comes across as a gung-ho would-be hero. His adherence to medical ethics ensures that he remains likeable. The female characters are granted intelligence and strength.
The writing is assured and the story constructed to retain interest. I read much of it on a journey and the time flew by. There is a place for stories that do not demand too much of the reader. This is an entertaining and engaging tale.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Impress Books.