Dogged by serious allegations, Dr. Jace Rawlings flees to Kenya to start over. But when his near-death surgery patients warn him that people are about to die, he finds himself embroiled in a life-threatening spiritual battle. Can he find the faith to unravel the tangle of witchcraft, politics, and deceit---and restore order to his world?
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Harry Kraus in his new book, “An Open Heart” published by David C Cook brings us into the life of Dr. Jace Rawlings.
From the back cover: A Surgeon caught between two worlds
Dr. Jace Rawlings’s open-heart surgery patients hover between life and death, their hearts stopped on the surgery table. But the messages they bring back from beyond the grave cannot be ignored. For they predict the deaths of people around him, and point a finger of suspicion straight at him.
Jace face a firestorm of controversy and danger. And the forces working against him will do anything to stop him from uncovering a truth they will kill to hide. He’d come to Kenya to establish a heart-surgery program for the poor. But the maelstrom of political intrigue and spiritual warfare will put everything at risk–his marriage, his career, even his life.
It is not often that you find medical drama, suspense, and spiritual warfare all rolled up in a thrilling adventure. Dr. Kraus has not only given us all that but he has also given us a page flipping thriller that is ripped from the current medical journals and added in an intense search for a murderer. The character of Dr. Rawlings is so well written. He is a man on the run from his own past and he figured he would lose his past in Kenya. Dr. Kraus explores some very interesting questions about what happens when we die and it will cause a lot of thought and searching. ”An Open Heart” is a very exciting adventure that kept my attention all the way until the end. I recommend it highly.
If you missed the interview for “The Six-Liter Club”, a different story from Dr. Kraus, and would like to listen to it and/or interviews with other authors and professionals please go to Kingdom Highlights where they are available On Demand.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from David C Cook. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Their Messages—From Beyond the Grave—Might Destroy Him.
They hover between life and death, their hearts stopped on the surgery table. And the messages Dr. Jace Rawlings’ open-heart surgery patients bring back from beyond the grave cannot be ignored. For they predict the deaths of people around him, and point a finger of suspicion straight at him.
It thrusts Jace into a firestorm of controversy and danger. A maelstrom blown by the darker winds of political intrigue and spiritual warfare. And the forces working against him will do anything to stop him from uncovering a truth they will kill to hide. He’d come to Kenya to establish a heart-surgery program for the poor. But what he will find in that place where he grew up will put everything at risk–his marriage, his career . . . his life.
This novel was my introduction to the genre of medical dramas in print. As missionary kids, Jace and Heather have a lot in common, and marriage seems like it will be a happy, forever road. But even the sun hides behind clouds, and when Jace finds himself operating on the governor, the governor's wife makes her play for the cardiothoracic surgeon. In the night that follows, even Jace doesn't know what happened. But Heather knows all too well that the man that promised to be faithful may not have kept his vows.
In the tempest that follows, Jace returns to Africa to perform heart surgery for the less fortunate. Rumors follow his wake in another continent, and when patients begin giving him messages that come true, he can no longer ignore the obvious; these messages are not wild guesses anyone could have come up with. As time runs out for both Heather and Jace, the question isn't whether they can find their way back to each other - but whether they will both survive long enough to see each other again.
This was a pulse racing novel in every sense of the word. It was so many things at once, I don't think I can fit it in a genre all by itself! There are so many things explored in this novel - so many themes and topics that my head was spinning with all the pieces of the puzzle. The highlight if this novel for me was the supernatural elements. I can't agree with the outcome of the patients that came back with messages for Jace, but the writing contained herein is some of the best suspense/mystery I've read in a while.
This book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.
This story of a celebrated American heart surgeon who refuses to believe in God because his twin sister did and she died the week before their high school graduation in Africa is a good/evil tale with plenty of medical description. Anyone interested in or participating in foreign mission work will find this a quick read.
dr Krause is one of my favorite authors since I am in the nursing field. I went on a mission trip to Nairobi, Kenya so it was easier to imagine where the events took place and the cultural expectations of the Kenyans of foreigners. The struggles of bringing in equipment and then beginning a medical practice was so vivid to me. I ejoyed the way the way the author wrote about the problems and dilemnas of the main character and his wife and how they were resolved. Not an easy fix.
Noted heart surgeon Jace Rawlings is back in Kenya, his childhood home. Son of missionaries, he has forsaken their faith and made a success of himself in the U. S. But is he back in Africa because of his desire to bring healing to those who would otherwise receive it, or is he running?
Through emergency surgery, Jace had saved the Virginia governor's life, but in the process had become too close to the governor's beautiful wife. And then Jace was in an automobile accident. The governor's wife had been with him and had subsequently been killed. Jace remembers nothing of that night. Does he have true amnesia or is he just protecting himself?
When an autopsy reveals that she had been drugged and had recently had sex, all suspicions turn to Jace. Heather, Jace's wife, receives a copy of the autopsy sent anonymously. Still back in Virginia, she had refused to go to Africa with Jace. She didn't know if she could trust him – the late nights, the lipstick on his shirt collar.
Jace experiences many cultural differences that jeopardizes his heart surgery plans. When he does perform some surgeries, his patients have messages for him. Messages from beyond this world. And then it becomes clear that someone is out to murder Jace.
This novel is different from the others I've read by Kraus. Rather than a medical thriller, this novel is more of a novel about the cultural experiences of a doctor in Kenya and the loyalty between wife and husband. The action in the novel is interspersed with back flashes, from both recent history (with the governor) and from childhood. The history behind Jace's current actions are very slowly revealed. I was expecting the same kind of action I found in Kraus' previous medical thrillers but this one is much, much slower and longer.
Kraus notes in the discussion questions that he himself was currently working at Kijabe Hospital so much of what he has included in this book comes from his current experience. It also appears (Question 8) that he was born in Kenya so Jace's childhood experiences may have come from the author's as well.
I received a complimentary egalley from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Moving from comfortable Virginia to Kenya to begin the nation’s first heart surgery programme sounds like a noble objective, but Dr Jace Rawlings is running away. He’s running away from a broken marriage, a possible affair and memory loss, and returning to the town where he grew up as a missionary kid, working at the hospital where his Dad was a doctor, and where he lost his faith and his twin sister.
But this is Africa, and there are challenges in getting the programme started, not least in getting the equipment through customs. And once Jace undertakes the first operation, he finds a strange after-effect: his patient is giving him messages from beyond this dimension. And that’s not his only problem. Someone is out to end the heart surgery programme, and it looks as though he might be implicated in a death back in the US.
I’ve read and enjoyed novels set in Africa and other exotic locations (particularly those by JM Windle). I’ve read and enjoyed medical dramas (by authors such as Candace Calvert and Hannah Alexander). I’ve read and enjoyed novels with a supernatural element (like The Widow of Saunders Creek or Illusion). And I’ve read and enjoyed several of Kraus’s previous books (including Perfect and the Claire McCall series), so I thought I would enjoy this. I did, but not as much as I expected.
The opening of Open Heart was excellent, as Jace found himself thrown in jail, then refusing to pay the bribes to release his medical equipment. But as I progressed, it felt as though the novel was trying to be a supernatural thriller (with supernatural messages and a witch doctor), a medical thriller (the surgery) and a suspense novel (who wants to end the heart programme and why, the US element and the back story about Jace’s twin sister) all at the same time. It was too much, and I’m not sure it worked.
But my big problem was Jace’s faith. While I could understand why he turned away from Christianity as a child, I didn’t see why he essentially faked faith throughout his adult life. He married another missionary kid, a strong Christian woman; he went to church, then he goes back to Africa to serve in a missionary hospital, yet he has no personal faith. (SPOILER: He then has a major change of heart at the end of the story, yet it came out of nowhere. It seemed convenient rather than heartfelt).
And there were times when Open Heart was let down by the writing. I found that the technical dialogue that comes across quickly in a TV medical drama doesn’t work so well on the page. It sounded authentic, but it read like a foreign language. There were too many points of view, odd changes of tense, and some of the scenes had a repetitious sentence structure (like starting consecutive paragraphs with adverbs).
Overall, it could have been great, but it wasn’t.
Thanks to David C Cook and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
I am a big fan of Harry Kraus’ books and this latest one, An Open Heart, doesn’t disappoint! The majority of the book takes place in Africa. The author uses flashback to fill in the main character’s background and history in order to flesh-out his personality. This is a riveting story and definitely will go on my “keeper” bookshelf. Jace Rawlings is a successful heart surgeon in Virginia. However, once he successfully saves the governor of Virginia by operating on him, his life changes. The governor’s young wife develops an attachment to Jace and he begins spending more time with her in the guise of “checking on his patient, the governor”. Jace’s wife, Heather, refuses to put up with this behavior any longer and asks him to move out. Then, Jace has a car accident, ending up in the hospital. He thinks his dead twin sister has spoken him and called him to return to Africa where they both grew up as the children of missionaries. Also, the governor’s wife is killed while phoning 911 to report Jace’s car accident. Her autopsy report has some interesting findings. Is there a plot to frame Jace for her killing? Jace heads to Africa after recovering from his car accident, thinking if he does enough good deeds he will rid himself of the guilt he feels over his sister’s death and the death of others he has experienced in his life. His good deed will be opening a heart surgery facility in African and operating on the poor, who have no way to pay and can’t get surgery elsewhere. After his first heart surgery, his patient wakes up with a message for him from the “other side”. Is this just postoperative paranoia? Jace hasn’t been a believer for a long time. He wants to believe, but just feels empty inside when others talk about their faith. Jace will encounter strange happenings in Africa that can’t be explained by his scientific mind. He also will experience the frustration and fear that is part of African politics. Is there really a supernatural battle being fought? Is there really a target on his back, making him a threat to differing African factions so that they are trying to kill him? Can Jace discover the faith his twin sister so adamantly wished for him to believe in? Will he be able to repair his marriage? The writing is stellar and the plot keeps moving along at a brisk pace. I read this book in a day because I couldn’t put it down. The chapters are brief so as to keep the reader flipping page after page in excitement to see what will be revealed next. This is another outstanding medical suspense story that shouldn’t be missed! I highly recommend it to one and all! You will not regret the time spent reading this novel. It will whet your appetite for more of this author’s fantastic books.
I enjoyed this medical suspense novel that combines Christianity with witchcraft. It is intense, and I must admit, I now much prefer remaining at home. I'll be content to travel through novels like this one.
The author is a board-certified surgeon in East Africa, and he writes about what he knows best. When he includes medical information, the story deepens. I found myself engrossed and easily able to follow along.
Discussion Questions included.
Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and David C. Cook for my copy.
I couldn't read this book fast enough to discover all the mysteries within the story. As the reader you will pick up on things that will make you want to reach into the book and say to the characters, "Put this together. Don't you see the connections?"
From the back cover blurb I thought the book would be a bit different, but still it was a great read. It didn't move as fast at times as I wanted it to. A lot of backstory, but it is needed, so I see why the author slipped it in there and in small chunks. It kept me flipping the pages so I could see the big picture by the end.
Most of the story takes place in Kenya and the author gives you a wonderful glimpse into it's beauty, poverty, corruption and customs.
Jace is like many of us -- his faith has been shaken and he doesn't even know if he believes in God anymore, even though he was a missionary kid. Things have happened in his life that make him question what is real and what does he believe? Can't we all relate, haven't we all been there at one time or another? I know I have.
Jace is struggling to discover who he really is. But maybe the more important question is....who does God say he is?
Of course I spotted some Genesis 5020's in the book, can you?
A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Set in the beautiful but corrupt landscape of Kenya, Harry's Kraus latest book offers up medical drama, suspense, and spiritual warfare in a fast-paced read. I greatly enjoyed that the book largely takes place in Africa, and the fact that the author himself resides in Kenya shows in the authentic feel to the descriptions of people and places and cultural nuances. I was particularly fascinated by the witch doctor who plays a prominent role in the story, and the way that the people of Africa are so much more open to acknowledge the spiritual forces that are at work behind the scene. I have found this to be true myself in the missions trips I've taken, such as my recent trip to Thailand. Kraus' inclusion of this aspect of Kenyan culture made for a unique twist to the plot and one that I hope to see in future novels from him as well. In terms of the controversy surrounding Dr. Jace Rawlings, I must admit that the actions of the villain did not always make sense to me (and I can't say more without ruining the plot). Nevertheless, the cross-cultural element of the threat over Jace's life made for some extra-intense scenes indeed! As with all of Harry Kraus' books, I most appreciate the way in which he can so seamlessly weave the power of what Jesus has done on the cross into his novels. "An Open Heart" not only provides an entertaining ride, but points to the grace of Jesus at the same time.
I award this book a solid rating of 4 out of 5 stars. Plan on picking up a copy of this book for yourself. You'll be glad you did!
Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, for the purposes of this unbiased review.
Jace Rawlings has made a good life for himself in the United States as a cardiac surgeon, far away from his childhood as an MK - missionary kid - in Africa, and far from the God of his childhood. And yet, due to extreme circumstances where Jace almost dies and believes his dead sister calls him to return to the place from their past, he doesn't hesitate. Believing he's been sent by his sister, and perhaps by God Himself, Jace willingly returns to Africa to start a heart surgery program. However, no matter how called he feels, the road isn't easy, and there seems to be much more at work than just the complicated politics of Kenya. Can Jace let go of his past, find healing, and find the God who has chosen him?
This book was fast-paced, and a compelling read. Jace struggles with deep loss and disappointment from his past, and has to decide whether he can trust the God he feels has forsaken him. As the twin brother of a girl who loved God with her whole heart, Jace identifies with Esau and the Bible verse that says "Jacob have I loved. Esau have I hated." That's a powerful image for him to get over, and his struggle to feel accepted by God is honest and heartwrenching. His childhood as a missionary kid in a boarding school for missionary kids has turned him off to "Christianese," and that also feels very real in a world where people don't want to just hear big words that don't mean anything to them. Additionally, Jace faces a spiritual battle that is very real to the world of Kenya, and the book even discusses how missionaries don't really talk about such things in the States, because nobody would believe it here.
Overall, I give this book 3.5 stars. I liked it, it kept my interest, but I didn't love it. I do enjoy the author's writing, and like how, for the most part, his inclusion of medical information enhances the story without confusing the reader.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.