Edward lay very still: his chest didn't move. The blood had stopped gushing out and was beginning to coagulate around his mouth and on the sheet. His eyes were still turned towards Willie, but now they were glazed and fixed. With a sudden fury of impotence, Willie got up and smashed his fist against the wall.

Two American students both love beautiful Liz Phelan. One of them, Willie Stringer, who was Liz's lover in their student days, has become a brilliant and high-flying New York surgeon. The other, Greg Hopkins, has married Liz and become a selfless and dedicated small-town GP. When Liz and Greg's son Edward falls ill, Willie offers to operate on him as a favour to old friends But Edward dies. . .

Greg is a man unwilling to think ill of anyone. In his grief over Edward he blames himself for long hours spent with his patients instead of with his family. But when he begins to suspect that his best friend Willie may have covered up misjudgements that caused Edward's death, Greg discovers in himself an undreamed-of fury and thirst for revenge.

Francis Roe has set his story of love, death and vengeance against the background of American medicine: the tense drama of the Operating Room, the hubbub of Emergency, the unrelenting pressure of life-or-death decisions. It is a world of riches and power - and also of back­stabbing and malpractice suits, where a doctor's lawyer is as necessary to him as his stethoscope.

This is a fast-paced and compulsively readable debut by a surgeon who has practised on both sides of the Atlantic.

First published in 1989