The Vanishing Patient, a review by Joanna

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The Vanishing Patient 

Mairi Chong

200 pages

Bloodhound Books

Publication – paperback: 20th July, ebook: August 3rd, 2022


The Vanishing Patient is the seventh and apparently final book in the Dr Cathy Moreland medical mystery series, set in the fictional Scottish town of Glainkirk, about a dedicated GP with a nose for trouble. I’ve read them all in order, and while each instalment stands alone, I do think Cathy’s character and behaviours make a lot more sense if you know her history. This one is quite different to the previous books, with more of a psychological focus rather than a whodunnit like the others, but I enjoyed it just as much.

Cathy has thrown herself into her work at the practice since breaking up with her boyfriend, and despite the risks, with her history of bipolar affective disorder, she’s not looking after herself at all, and has even distanced herself from her best friend. Stressed to the max by the unending workload, the imminent retirement of her senior partner and mentor James, and the need to find a replacement without alienating her over-stretched associate, she distracts herself by delving into the curious case of a patient who accuses one of the out of hours doctors of kidnapping his wife, then disappears himself. Convinced there’s something sinister going on, Cathy becomes fearful of those around her, and in her mounting paranoia, believes only she can save the missing couple. Is one of her colleagues involved in a terrible cover-up, or is her mind playing tricks on her?

My favourite aspect of this series is how the author, a former GP herself, weaves medical facts and the hard realities of working in the NHS into fiendishly clever crime puzzles, that I never manage to solve until the final reveal. This one is no exception, but goes a different route by leading you up one metaphorical path after another, hinting that our heroine is losing her mind for sure, and leading us through her confusion and obsessive quest for the truth. Cathy’s always been a somewhat frustrating protagonist, as her dogged independence and brittle self-belief prevent her from asking for help or calling the police, but you can’t help admiring her tenacity and determination to be a good doctor no matter what. The question of what went wrong with gentleman surgeon Chris is not revealed until quite late, but it does all make sense in the end.

This has been a fantastic series and I’m somewhat sad that it’s over – although I believe a spin-off may be in the works – hopefully featuring my favourite support character Suzalinna… They’re different to any other crime series I’ve read – set in modern times but old-fashioned in style, very well written but not overly wordy, and each one is subtly different so you never feel they’re following a formula. This may well be one of my favourites! 4.5 rounded up for surprising me yet again. Thanks to Mairi Chong for the ARC, I am posting this honest review voluntarily.



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