Oxygen by Carol Cassella

Mr. Curiosity came across this book as he was looking for something for himself and thought it sounded like a book I would enjoy. I was thrilled to put one of his recommendations on my TBR. I was looking for something non-fantasy to read, and thought this would fit the bill.

Published: 2008

Genre: medical thriller

Length: 288 pages

Setting: Seattle, Washington and Houston, Texas, present day

Summary: Short version: A child dies under Marie’s care and she is devastated

Long version: Marie is an anesthesiologist at a Seattle hospital. She’s a good doctor and takes pride in soothing people’s fears before the go into surgery. She starts to doubt herself when one of her patients, a child, dies of respiratory failure on the operating table. She blames herself, but can’t figure out what went wrong. She and the hospital are sued. Marie has a hard time letting go of the mother’s grief. Joe, a one-time lover, long-time friend, and fellow anesthesiologist, tries to help her move on from the accident. Eventually, Marie takes a leave of absence and goes to stay with her sister in Texas. She also spends some time with her father who is slowly losing his eyesight due to macular degeneration. Marie eventually learns her patient died because Joe switched some medication to steal fentanyl.

Final thoughts: A slow start to the book, but it finished strong. The beginning of the book felt ominous. I spent the first 25 pages just waiting for something bad to happen. As soon as the kid was introduced, I knew it would go wrong. I did think I knew the source of the mistake (Joe drew up Marie’s drugs after a long day and I figured he made a mistake in the dilutions), but I was wrong. It was Joe, but not because of a mistake he made. When we got to the end and it looked like drug abuse by a physician was the reason for the child’s death, I was really hoping it wasn’t Joe. Joe and Marie were good together. They had fun and were comfortable with each other and their desired level of privacy. It looked like they were growing closer together. Instead, Joe was just feeling guilty for causing the death of a child under he friend’s care and he couldn’t just come out and say it. At least he came clean at the end and cleared Marie’s name, even if he didn’t stick around to be arrested.

I could tell the author was a scientist (turns out she’s an anesthesiologist). There were a lot of medical terms used whenever Marie was working. Also, Marie tended to view people via their parts and medical problems. It added a strong feeling of veracity to the writing.

Title comes from: Marie’s job was to make sure the body was receiving enough oxygen during surgery

Reading challenges fulfilled: book #28 for 2019, and an O in my Title Reading the Alphabet Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!


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