Book Jacket


rank  Editors Pick
word count 96950
date submitted 03.03.2009
date updated 10.01.2010
genres: Fiction, Thriller, Crime
classification: moderate

Lines of Control

Robert Sperber

Charlotte Westbrook, maverick Inspector General who investigates theft of government money by hospitals, steps outside the bounds of her office to investigate three murders.


Health and Human Services Inspector General Charlotte Westbrook, charged with investigating hospitals suspected of stealing government money, steps outside the bounds of her office to investigate the murders of three medical students on a university campus in this 96,000-word mystery. In doing so, she sets herself up for conflict with the police department and criticism from Congress, the Administration and the press.

Going her own way is nothing new for Charlotte. Ever since she entered public service, she’s had to prove herself against skeptics who think she secured her career because she is the daughter of a former powerful and well-known Senator. But there’s been a price. Her attention to her career has kept her without a significant companion throughout much of her 42 years. Now, she and her gay chief counsel and friend of many years form a modern-day Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson as they deal with a less-than-perfect police department and seek to find the murderer.


The complete book, the first in a series of Charlotte Westbrook healthcare murder mysteries, is uploaded.

Copyright Ⓒ 2009 Robert Sperber

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HarperCollins Wrote

My overall reaction to Lines of Control was really positive. I found the writing to be incredibly fast-paced which works well for the genre. Though there are multiple strands of narrative the overall narrative is complex but balanced. The only difficulty that arises is in developing a strong image of the characters when there are so many different strands; we get a great feel for Charlotte Westbrook but the other characters struggle a little to emerge.

The book is well-researched and the medical passages are explained in such a way that a lay-reader can understand what is happening – it is often tempting to put in too much detail which readers can struggle to grasp – you have managed, again, to get a great balance between giving enough medical detail but in a clear way.

I was not expecting the murder of Dana which was absolutely great – I think the fact that she had been reminiscing about her family life prepared me for something awful happening. Perhaps there is more mileage in stripping this section out. It would be better to just concentrate on her making her way to the medical school at night and setting the scene for the killing. Or perhaps she could be thinking about Scott (as his death is more important to the reader than her relationship with her parents). To have a gun coming out of nowhere and shooting who we believe is the main protagonist was great and kept my interest.

All the same, there are areas that I feel could do with some reconsideration. In order to be of a publishable standard the start of the story would need a lot of work. Dana’s discovery of Scott’s body is somewhat clichéd – “Don’t tell me he’s dead.” It would almost be better to be more abstract, reducing the amount of description. I wonder whether we could keep the identity of Dana and Scott in reserve for future chapters so you are just starting off with a dead body in a lab being discovered. You can elaborate in the later chapters about who it is, who they were in a relationship with etc. Too much was given away right at the start and there needs to be a reason to keep reading and an element of suspense.

Overall I thought that the book had a lot of potential – in the thriller genre, the hardest thing is to get the reader’s attention. I thought that the fast-paced and detailed narrative really drew the reader in. However, I’m not sure whether the idea of healthcare fraud would be a reason to pick up the book – since in a crowded and troubled market there has to be a strong reason for the reader to pick up a book. An easy alternative would be to concentrate on the murder of three students and what connects their deaths. If you alter the focus of the narrative in this way I think readers would be more interested in starting the book in the first place. A bit of redrafting and this would be a really interesting work – for a reader and a publisher - so I hope you consider taking these thoughts on board.

M William Anderson wrote 1726 days ago

From the very first chapter you can just smell, like formaldehyde, that this is a hit. It feels like one of those books that you wait for every year, around September when the giants such as Cornwell, King and Paterson launch yet another gripping, page-turning opus on an unsuspecting public. In fact, and take this as a compliment, but this book reminded me so much in vitality and "first book-ness" of Patricia Cornwell's first Scarpetta novel, Postmortem. There is also something very Thomas Harris in the writing too, and I love the character of Charlotte Westbrook, who is the very amalgam of Clarice Starling and Kay Scarpetta rolled into one hugely accessible lead. Just great, and Sperber deserves to be mentioned along with the likes of Cornwell and King, if for nothing else than he's delivered a novel to us with such "Lines of Control" it deserves to be shelved.

Ian Mayfield wrote 1753 days ago

Ah, a nice medical thriller. A first for authonomy, at least as far as I've come across. And, considering the chief topic of political discussion in the US right now, very timely.

This is top-notch stuff. Tightly-written, well-plotted (at least from what can be discerned in the eight chapters posted here) with good characterisation - Detective Petrelli is especially well-drawn - and pace and excellent dialogue. A few minor style niggles, perhaps, but frankly SO minor that a lenient editor could let them pass without detracting from the quality or the smoothness of the read.

You've clearly mastered the technique of keeping your readers on their toes, so that just when we think we've got a feel for the kind of book this is going to be, [SPOILER ALERT for those who haven't yet read that far] and just as we're getting to know Dana and her background and thinking, 'Oh, she SURELY isn't going to stumble on ANOTHER corpse, is she?' you shock us nicely by having her become one herself.

But your crowning achievement here may be that you've actually succeeded in making the mind-buggering topic of medical billing and fraud INTERESTING. Major kudos for that!

Shelved, and well-earned.

Niobrara Kardnova wrote 1695 days ago

A must read for anyone wanting to make an informed decision on Health Care reform, and, more to the point, for anyone who loves a good mystery--well-constructed, no gimmicks. The author's knowledge of the medical system is immense, and he uses this as a foundation on which to construct an engaging and thoroughly believable murder plot.

This book is far superior to most published mysteries I've read. The action is convincing throughout, the characters are well developed but not overdone, and the who-done-it element progresses naturally and convincingly. Editors and agents would be doing themselves a favor to take a look at this book.

A few considerations for minor improvements: 1. The explanation of qui tam laws at the beginning of chapter 17, while necessary, might be better worked into the narrative; 2. A short transitional paragraph to Arun's flashback, at the beginning of chapter 26, when he explains how he got into this mess, might help this section read more naturally; 3. Publishers nowadays seem to be interested in an author's next book, perhaps even more so than in the one they are looking at. Have you considered a sequel? Charlotte is a strong character--she could investigate more cases with Lewis, perhaps even team up with Petrelli on a permanent basis. Whatever you decided to do with this, I would suggest working it into the final chapter, maybe in place of some of the "thereafter" information you provided about peripheral characters.

Anyway, I'm shelving this book and plan to leave it on my shelf for a good long time. Best of luck with it.

Niobrara Kardnova (The Trouble With Wives)

Janet Marie wrote 1833 days ago

Hi Robert.

On my shelf. You are a master for hooking the reader with the first sentence of the excerpt and with each chapter. With each informative narrative, you answer my question while raising another. Your descriptions get the reader's lazy brain ticking, intent to figure out the mystery before the protagonist. Excellent mystery set up, first with the dead body and then introducing a cast of distinctive characters. A publishworthy treat perfect for the genre.

Best Wishes. Janet Marie

PCreturned wrote 1086 days ago

I remember reading + backing this ages ago. Fast paced, and yet complex. Plenty of unexpected events to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. Good stuff. :)

I especially like the fact your book fills such an unusual niche. It's a sort of medical thriller. I can't think of many books out there in that area, and I'm betting v few of the published works are a match for this. :)

If you weren't already desked, I'd be v temped to back this again. I do hope this has been published. :)


wespollet wrote 1406 days ago

Hi Robert, It looks like you have a winner in Charlotte. A strong character and I look forward to other books in the series and I Back It. Harold Alvin (ICON)Wesley

Burgio wrote 1464 days ago

I liked this book a lot. (Sorry, I didn't realize you had a star until I scrolled down to write this so now I'm guessing you don't really want any more comments). I read this, tho, so I'm add a comment anyway. I was intrigued by the murder of the med students (what could they possibly know that would be reason for that?) I liked Dana as a main character from the start because it's refreshing to read about a midde-ager rather than all the teenagers featured on this site. It's definitely a book I would take down from a shelf in a bookstore to read. I'll add it to my shelf because I sincerely liked this, altho, again, I guess I'm after the fact on that. Burgio (Grain of Salt).

Famlavan wrote 1495 days ago

Been reading to find out what I need to reach the dizzy heights. Mmmm might just give in. Good luck with the next step!!

Barry Wenlock wrote 1542 days ago

Just to say - very enjoyable. best wishes, Barry (Little Krisna and the Bihar Boys)

JoeDPalermo wrote 1558 days ago

Nice job. I like the way you write - good flow. Holds your interest. Backed the book

Pete M wrote 1576 days ago

"I'm not sure, but if I talk to the boss, there's a chance we might be able to get you the big green light."

Scraps2point0 wrote 1577 days ago

I really love this first chapter. Unfortunately, the rest of it refuses to load for me at the moment, but I agree that the fast-paced nature of it is very well-written, as far as I have seen. It begins with a bang, and I can't wait to read the rest of it! I'll be sure to back it for you.

DawnDeane wrote 1577 days ago

Good commentary from HC review. Congrats!

Hey if you get a chance to look over the changes I've made to The Immortals: Changeling. after you make some of the changes, whatever ones you feel are right! let me know I'd be happy to go through it again

fifi wrote 1591 days ago

HI Robert, this is not a bad read at all. I read through to chapter 5, just not in the mood for this sort of story to go further tonight I'm afraid but it is well written, the storey set up nicely & the characters are 3D.
Backed & best of luck with it.,

say anything wrote 1593 days ago

Gosh this is a good book! You are a bteter writer than Robin Cook , Charlotte is a fabulous character and your knowledge of medicine is pretty startling for a non physician. If I hadnt read your bio I would have never believed otherwise, which means superb researching and it shows. I want to compliment you as well on how perfect your timing is for this book, topical? Thats an understament.


Jonathon_LaMella wrote 1596 days ago

The action in chapter 1 is very good and the way you're charcter reveals came off very natural and smooth. Also the element of myetery with what happened to Scott Karakas is a good start to keep the reader's interest. Good job!

Jonathon_LaMella wrote 1596 days ago

Hi Robert! Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. Sure, I'm up for a swap. Going to read Lines of Control right now.

Ccastle wrote 1605 days ago

This does have a feel of Cornwell, I agree with one of the posters here. I do not mean in a 'ripped-off' way by the way - I mean, that you write in a similar genre and with a similar skill. Slick.

Nothing jarred. I was compelled to read on. Again, this is a book which I would happily take into the bath with me. Come on HC, stop publishing rubbish misery memoirs and give some clever fiction writers a chance. You could start with this one.


Lichen Burn wrote 1606 days ago

The pitch for Lines of Control drew me right in from the start. And then there's a dead body discovered by his (erstwhile) girlfriend, then there are fraud investigators, surgical spirit all over the place, surgeons making jokes about having sewn sponges inside their patients. It's all there and has the makings of a wonderful story.

You write with enormous authority, clearly from the centre of your knowledge, it's very convincing - and all the more frightening for it. And that leads me to a suggestion. In Ch2, for example, you tell us that exclusion from Medicare meant that a doctor could no longer bill the government for treating senior citizens and was for a minimum of five years. This is clearly information the reader needs to know. But I just wonder whether you could weave it into Charlotte's thoughts? Something like the following:

'... Five years was a helluva long time not to be billing the government. Charlotte didn't like the idea of putting a doctor out of business. She hated this bit, first of all feeling sympathy - and then her tough side would kick in: hell, no, these guys had broken the law. Or had they just made a bad call? She could never make up her mind.'

It's pretty crap writing, I know, but at least we are shown all the information by way of Charlotte's doubts and professional motives. There is a fair bit of technical information in the book that the reader needs to understand, and if it could come from a character, either in dialogue or intimate thoughts, it might make the story zip along even faster. What do you think?

Good luck with the book - it will do well.

Mairi Graham wrote 1607 days ago

Hi. I started reading Lines of Control just after you commented on Errisbeg. I really like Charlotte and Lewis, and the way they play off each other. So much of a detective story depends on the tension between the partners. I also like the fact that Charlotte is a Health Care Inspector stepping out of line. That is, that she properly belongs in the long line of brilliant amateur detectives. A compelling read, and I'll back it with pleasure. Sorry I took so long with this.

Cazzi F wrote 1607 days ago

Oh my God, do they really recruit cheerleasers as Pharma Sales Reps!?

Flawless confident writing from a writwe who's clearly enjoying himself. This confidence must come from knowing the subject so well as the jargon and politics are introduced and explained with ease and I never felt bamboozled by it as I often do by Grisham or Cornwell. It's as if you fully understand what the reader needs to know about the medical world without showing off or alienating the reader.

Natural dialogue which is neither too snappy or too rambling - a good lesson for me here!

Got up to chapter 7 in one sitting and will definitely keep going with this one.


galencharles wrote 1607 days ago

Who would believe that a subject as banal and sterile as Health Care could be the subject of a mystery thriller. Yet Robert Sperber pulls it off with aplomb and style.

From the opening, the reader is thrust headlong into the action with the discovery of a murder mystery. I personally love stories where the reader finds themselves in the action rather than the interminable meander of setting the scene.

On my shelf.
Galen Watson
(The Psalter)

Val-Rae Christensen wrote 1607 days ago

This is a fascinating premise. Your prose are fairly clean, but your setup, in my opinion, needs some fine tuning. I should have gotten to you earlier. I’m sorry for my slowness.

“As a third year medical student...” I don’t think you need to repeat James Buchanan again, it’s implied. The POV argument bores me to tears, but I think, in a story like this, we should not be aware that the man is dead before your MC is. She may shake him in hope or willful disbelief, but you’ve already implied that she couldn’t deal with a death when you said, “She did not expect this,” so if she doesn’t know he’s dead, she couldn’t have thought it already, do you see? And now she’s shaking him again--this time clearly in willful disbelief, and yet you already used that card. And she continues to hope, which is fine, but...instead of CPR, she’s really going to check all his vitals? Or would, had she the proper instruments? Really?

This promises to be a fascinating read. I wish you the best with it.

Jason Jawando wrote 1607 days ago

I have read the first three-and-a-half chapters. It's well written, and I think it is a good piece of genre fiction. I began to lose my way during the questioning of Dana and Nick. There's an awful lot of exposition in here, and it feels like a certain kind of TV cop show where forensic experts spend half their time telling each other things they would expect to know. Generally I find this kind of dialogue unconvincing - at best it comes across as a clumsy way of telling the reader/viewer something they need to know for the story; at worst it seems like the writer is showing off how much research they've done. In this case, it feels nearer to the former than the latter, but I find it difficult to believe that a police officer would go into that much detail with witnesses, let alone potential suspects.

I should add that I don't usually read this genre for precisely those reasons, and you may find that you have an audience with the genre's fans. As I say I did find it well-written, and I wish you all the best with it.

Mediocre Writer wrote 1608 days ago

Well done, Robert: you've uploaded a submission which reads like a published book. All the right boxes are ticked, I'd say: well-written, tight prose, good characterisation, authentic dialogue, as well as a narrative structure which draws the reader in right from the start. It deserves the ranking it's got, and I do hope HarperCollins get to see it.

Coffee Vixen wrote 1608 days ago

Love that first sentence! Always good to grab the reader immediately and not let go. Backed! :)

RSA wrote 1608 days ago

Hi Robert,

Nice opening. We're off to an exciting beginning. When Dana feels for Scott's pulse, is his skin warm or cold already? (Just something to think about.) I like the dynamic between Charlotte and her side kick in Chapter 2. One nit: "In more cases than not, meant the end of a doctor's business." it meant the end? Detective Petrelli is great. I can completely picture him. Overall, I enjoyed the read. The plotting is good, and I can tell you know your stuff (medical details, the health industry, etc.) - my pet peeve is feeling doubtful/having the suspension of disbelief broken while reading, so great job there. My one suggestion would be to take care with the exposition so it doesn't slow down your pacing. On my shelf and good luck with the ED!

Rachael (Swimming in Fountains)

Venenum wrote 1609 days ago

Hey Robert
This is a extraordinary and powerful read. I'm only half-way through, but so far it's incredible. I love thrillers and this one is no exception. You have a gem here and I truly wish you all the best luck. shelved!

Haley Brite wrote 1609 days ago

Hi Robert.

This story feels done and I mean that in a edited, copied, proof-read and published kind of a way! I should most likely be taking notes from you on how to do that! :) I am a fan of Kathy Reich and your writting reminds me of her. Although, as I can see, others have pointed out, there's a lot of detail that I guess isn't really needed. My flaw is that I read the details and try to remember them, thinking that in there somewhere is a clue as to who the murderer is, or why he was killed. For some reason it seemes to be the way my mind works, I want to figure it out before I'm told. Silly, I know but it's true.
I really liked what I've read so far, I'm up to chapter 12 already and I'm happy to back this because you have a great talent for this type of writting. I will be back to finish the read once I have a little more time.
(Being new on this site takes up a lot of time)

Best of luck with it

Haley Brite - Hart

Brian Bandell wrote 1609 days ago

This novel is very professional. You grab the reader by having the body discovered right away and having a strong reaction to the murder. The police interview is also well done. Where you lost me is chapter four with the lecturing. It doesn't seem to lead anywhere besides giving an interesting perspective on health care. I'm a health care journalist, so I know where you're coming from here. But it speaks of you talking to the reader, not characters talking between each other. Perhaps you can think of a way for them to convey that information in a more natural way. Either that, or make the conversation more argumentative and confrontational.

Otherwise, the murder angle is very strong. So stick to that and you've got a great crime thriller. Let the political points make themselves through your story.

The Hood wrote 1609 days ago


just a thought but maybe a little too much explanation in here, telling the reader what she was doing and why. "She did not expect this" can go, I mean, would anyone expect to find their boyfriend dead on the lab floor??

Good idea though, stick with it.

Rob - Slow Wheel turning

Ruth Estevez wrote 1609 days ago

Dear Robert,
I seem to be saying "I don't read this type of book" a lot on this sight. I suppose there's so much to read in the genres I like, I don't get round for much more. Anyway, I don't read many thrillers, more likely to watch them as films, one of the reasons being that I assume they are not well-written. Not sure where that prejudice is from, but you have shown me wrong. I like the straight talking style you use. Great opening sentence - bang int there.

I'd cut the italicised thoughts though - I really don't like that useage. I prefer to be shown what someone is thinking by their actions or what they actually say.
As you give us information quickly and keep the idea flowing into the next I think your writing is above this.

I really liked it and want to know more about the main character as she comes across so strongly from all you say and say well in these opening pages. It's on my shelf and good luck.

Ramoon Mar wrote 1610 days ago

allow me to introduce myself: I'm the customer from hell, too direct to be liked by most. Regarding your novel, the fact that you are a reporter is extremely visible. Too many details and, as once a literature teacher said "if it's not mandatory, don't say it". The tendency when you read a thriller is to skip the descriptive parts because the reader follows the action, the dialogue, that's why many people loved "Lord of the rings" - the movie and hated the book, because you get lost in details. But if you are keen to give details, don't do it in the first chapter, try to catch the reader first, after that, he will be more benevolent... :). The novel has a great potential i give you that...

Marc Delalangue wrote 1610 days ago

Two basic comments: one, structurally this is a very strong opening; two, the writing, though sound, is not tight enough to render the structure with the full impact it could have.

As to the first point, you really have done it right. This is a striking moment, the discovery of a murder victim by someone close to him. The scene plays out nicely as you weave the account of Dana’s personal relationship to Scott with her examination of him, realization that he’s dead and calling 911. When people talk about planting a hook, this is what they mean, and the barb has set itself.

As to the second. While the writing is sound, it is also diffuse with too many details impeding the pace of the action and denying the scene the tautness that would give the action full impact. Since it’s not a matter of any simple, easy to identify glitches that I can isolate and comment on, the best I can do is give you a sample edit of a paragraph. Here goes:

Getting a grip on herself, Dana pressed her fingers against the carotid artery in his neck. She waited, hoping, praying that she’d feel a pulse. Her grip tightened, but she felt nothing. Stifling the sob rising in her throat and repressing memories of all the times she’d lovingly laid her head there, she put her head to his chest and waited. Still nothing, no rise and fall, no breath! She grabbed her purse, pulled out a small flashlight, forced Scott’s right eye open, and flashed the light into his pupil. It didn’t contract. She repeated the operation on his left eye, but that pupil, too, did not contract.

Hope that helps you see what I mean.


S Ridley wrote 1610 days ago

This is written as if it is already published! Great story. Your story is interesting and makes me want to sit down and read it cover to cover. I like how you describe everything without having to inundate our brains. You have a craft. The story itself is wonderful then topped off with your writing is the cherry on top.

S. Ridley

Draco wrote 1610 days ago

A very professional read - could be anyone of a number of authors. I like the premise of a medical mystery and you have set it up very well. Great pace and drama. Also like the way you have developed the characters, great economy of words but enough to picture the character. No crits, on the shelf and good luck with the Eds desk.

Draco/ Veil

johnjoch wrote 1610 days ago

Just a note from me , I back this book and say it deserves to be published. I hope you get your first book shelved and write more in the same vein.

johnjoch wrote 1610 days ago

This is really thrilling stuff although I found that Chapter Two was perhaps in the wrong place for the start of the story. I filt it should have come in after the third when it was found that the student had been murdered. This is just my first thoughts and although the actual story is great, I am wondering how it contiues. I would commend this book to anyone, especially those who like a good thriller. I shall read more later but at the moment, I want to read the rest when I have more time to digest it properly. A great book inthe making!

Raymond Nickford wrote 1610 days ago


As Dana 'immediately reached for the carotid artery [of her former lover] ... praying there would be 60 to 80 beats per minute' of his pulse, the authority of your research lent emotional force to your opening chapter, hooking me into your second chapter.
On the firing range, the dialogue was crisp and as realistic as the scene painting which you interweave. Charlotte's special qualifications in her field build a yet stronger sense of authenticity while the equivocation over whether the death was due to heart failure or murder kept me aboard until the clinical revelation that her lover was killed by poisoning.
Altogether, I found this a very convincing and involving first three chapters which, when combined with the storyline from your synopsis, convinced me that many others will surely find Lines of Control a powerful contribution to your genre. Shelved.
(A Child from the Wishing Well)

SareyFairy wrote 1610 days ago

Hi Robert.
I have just finished reading chapter three and am enjoying this well written thriller immensely. It is what all thrillers should be, a good page turner. I like that your main character's are woman and they remind me of a Patricia Cornwell series which I loved reading.
I am backing this well deserved thriller now and will read more later.
Sarah. T-cup and he Dream Team Fairies

Tab.eye wrote 1610 days ago

The begining was awesome. I automatically went for the second chapter...I always liked reading thrillers and this one is really a gem. Keep up the good work!

buckman52 wrote 1610 days ago

Well, for the critiquing. How about in chapter two, the second paragraph. Both quotes should be around 'you've taken more...'
You have a flare for writing dialog. It moves your story along in a more thorough way than action. I thought I'd have more critiquing to do but your story is just too perfect.
Lori Buckman

buckman52 wrote 1610 days ago

Well, for the critiquing. How about in chapter two, the second paragraph. Both quotes should be around 'you've taken more...'
You have a flare for writing dialog. It moves your story along in a more thorough way than action. I thought I'd have more critiquing to do but your story is just too perfect.
Lori Buckman

Eleni Alexandraki wrote 1611 days ago

I've only read the 1st three chapters, but hopefully, I'll read more. I like Dana- she felt like Kay Scarpetta- tough, edgy, smart, indepent. I can't wait to read more!

wespollet wrote 1611 days ago

Wow what a timely book with all the croodness in Medicare (USA) and the slum dogs in charge of it. I placed it on my chair but just now finished the reading..Look forward to the others series. Harold Alvin (ICON)Wes

nana wrote 1611 days ago

Hi Robert, I enjoyed this. Shelved!

Good luck,


Letting Go, a true story

Legirl wrote 1611 days ago

This is so good I am shocked that I cannot go right out and buy it this instant. Despite not being the biggest fan of the genre I love this. Well done.
Hope you like 'Emails from an Irish Mother'.

Derek Stettler wrote 1611 days ago

Very good, I really like what I've read so far of the story, but I do have one thing that I think could be changed or even just deleted. The first paragraph. It seems like you are trying to set up what you tell later by telling it already. The story is good though, and I know I'll finish reading it. Good job.

Brandwood wrote 1611 days ago

Hello Robert,
I can't pretend to have read this lengthy book through; I skipped chapters to get a feel of the characters and the plot. Your dialogue is very credible, the sort of exchange that one hears between real people, and you describe places and people well. I learned quite a bit about the American health system here. I back the book.
Tom Kilcourse

Denise Heinze wrote 1612 days ago

I like the premise of this novel--combining crime and medicine, which will appeal to a lot of readers. And, the first chapter was fast-paced and pretty exciting. By the second and third chapters, though, I felt like the pace slowed down quite a bit and that language use flagged. I know you're building character in those chapters, which requires more exposition, but I found my mind drifting a bit. Lewis promises to be an interesting fellow, as does Charlotte; as for Dana, I suggest you flesh her out a bit more earlier on. I think this novel has lots of potential and wish you the best of luck.

Reese Reed wrote 1612 days ago

Very interesting read! I've read the first few chapters, and I'm drawn in. Wish I had time for more!! Thanks for the note inviting me to swap, I've enjoyed it. Wish I had more to offer in means of critique, but you've got clean, clear, polished writing here, and it flows well. Nicely done.


thrlamnila wrote 1612 days ago


I was wondering if you would check out my collection of short stories, if you have the time. I would appreciate your insight.

May This Letter Find You Well,


buckman52 wrote 1612 days ago

I've read your first two chapters and will read the next two, and the next two, critiquing each, if that's alright. I know you changed the beginning of your book but here goes again: Maybe you should tell us about Charlotte first as she is perhaps entering the room, before she sees the body. If she sees someone curled up in the corner, not moving, the action should continue, not be broken up by the description of the main character.
After the first page, there was nothing to criticize. Your command of the English language is marvelous, so much better than mine will ever be.
Yours is the last book I can shelve but I obviously I will.
And why are so many authors from England, Scotland or Ireland? I feel so lonely over here in California.
Lori Buckman

BenjaminK wrote 1612 days ago

Hi Robert,

A great opening - and introducing one of the main characters (suspects?) through an emergency telephone call was very effective. The novel is easy to read and cracks along at a good pace. There's a real depth of knowledge about the health industry here and fraud is always so juicy. Charlotte's a straight shooting heroine. I'm not quite sure what an OIG investigator is. (I guess it's a department within the FBI?) Looking forward to reading more. I've backed it.