Book Review: The Queen of Hearts, by Kimberly Martin

I'll be honest. I was a bit prejudiced against this book and did not have high expectations. I think it may have been the title? "The Queen of Hearts" sounded a little cliché, a little easy to me. But I couldn't resist the beautiful cover and gave it a go anyway.

And I'm glad I did!

I won't try and paraphrase the story with my own blurb - instead, here is the official synopsis:

Zadie Anson and Emma Colley have been best friends since their early twenties, when they first began navigating serious romantic relationships amid the intensity of medical school. Now they're happily married wives and mothers with successful careers--Zadie as a pediatric cardiologist and Emma as a trauma surgeon. Their lives in Charlotte, North Carolina are chaotic but fulfilling, until the return of a former colleague unearths a secret one of them has been harboring for years. 

As chief resident, Nick Xenokostas was the center of Zadie's life--both professionally and personally--throughout a tragic chain of events in her third year of medical school that she has long since put behind her. Nick's unexpected reappearance during a time of new professional crisis shocks both women into a deeper look at the difficult choices they made at the beginning of their careers. As it becomes evident that Emma must have known more than she revealed about circumstances that nearly derailed both their lives, Zadie starts to question everything she thought she knew about her closest friend.

I was surprised at how slowly the story first developed. Having read my fair share of "easy" mystery novels, they tend to hook you from the get go, making it impossible to put the book down. Their downfall is the writing, which I usually find to be subpar. 

I was expecting that to be the case for The Queen of Hearts - but I was wrong. It wasn't until I was two thirds in that I felt the need to binge and stayed up way too late to finish the book. 

However, a slower beginning doesn't mean a boring beginning for Kimberly Martin's first novel. She writes well, and what she lacks in richness for more mundane things (settings, persons, landscapes, etc., while cleverly described, are not overly colorful), she makes up for in medical terms. Far from being off-putting or boring, Kimmery Martin's medical background gives the book an authenticity that make it stand out. Some medical episodes felt a little unnecessary - but overall I really enjoyed the hospital setting. 

As for the storyline. I liked it. I liked the friendship, I liked the development and didn't guess the ending until it was about to unravel. 

Overall, I'd say if you're a Grey's Anatomy fan, The Queen of Hearts is for you (in a more grown-up, more authentic and less ridiculous way). Or if you're just looking for a different kind of mystery novel that's easy to read, but not too easy. 

* This book was sent to me for review purposes. Thoughts and opinions are my own.


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