A Review of Dr. Vigilante by Alberto Hazan
I’m a huge fan of Dexter the TV series where Dexter Morgan is a blood spatter expert by day and a vigilante by night. So, I was immediately drawn to the premise of this novel where Dr. Robert McKenzie is a highly skilled ER doctor (St. Jude’s Hospital) by day and a vigilante by night.
When we first meet Dr. McKenzie, he bumped heads with the new ER social worker, Sharon Reede. A transplant from Indiana to New York City, Sharon was idealistic and always went above and beyond in getting the services the patients needed (e.g., emergency Medicaid, rehab programs, placement at a shelter, etc.).
Everyone had a bet she wouldn’t last long in an environment where the patients were sometimes hostile, the staff were mostly unfriendly especially Dr. Jerk-Off McKenzie – always sarcastic, crude, and dismissive – the type of person you would want to punch in the face. However, this was a façade for Robert to hide that he truly cared. He would give money to folks anonymously, pay for their surgeries and at night he would dole out his own type of justice to child molesters, abusive husbands, and rapists.
When Robert saved Sharon from being assaulted by a “frequent-flying scumbag” patient, she subsequently confronted him about being the vigilante. She then decided to keep his secret and over drinks and dinner at his favorite Mexican restaurant, she began to know Robert the man who spoke fluent Spanish, trained to fight by Guillermo (a medicine man and a general in Guatemala), enjoyed chiles rellenos, beer, and danced to the sounds of ranchera music. Hence, the beginning of their romance and a test of how they each viewed the world.
Overall, the storyline was realistic, gritty and touched upon the social ills of society where justice wasn’t always served. The pacing was good, the dialogue was authentic, the medical scenes were expertly described, and the characters were well developed. Hazan did a great job capturing the essence of New York (sights, sounds, smells) while Robert maneuvered the city to do his recon and catch his prey.
I also liked that Hazan gave statistics about domestic violence, child abuse and rape to ground readers about these acts of cruelty. But these folks don’t always get away especially when they are in the crosshairs of Dr. Vigilante.
This is a must read if you like Dexter and watching Law and Order: SVU. Two thumbs up!
Some of my favorite lines:
“I’m a soldier, Sharon, and you don’t believe in violence.”
“I do,” she said. “At least I do now. How could I not? You couldn’t have pulled that rapist off me without violence.”
“True. But you don’t agree with my lifestyle.”
“Not necessarily. The question we should be asking is, when is violence appropriate? I think you and I still have time to see if we can live with each other’s answer. But with a gorgeous day like this, let’s not talk about violence or about us being doomed or about work.”
“Yes, Ms. Reede. Sorry.” Robert gave her butt a little pat.
Rating: 5 stars