Edited on 30th April, 2016:
It's been more than a year since I read the book and I'd like reiterate that the coffee scene still makes me laugh when I think about it.
I was lucky enough to receive an eCopy of Deadly Practice by Bill Yancey in return for an honest review.
Deadly Practice is primarily about Addison Wolfe, MD. He takes a job at a clinic and one of his colleagues, the office manager Sarafea Seville, is an absolute nightmare. However, soon it becomes clear to him that someone is trying to murder her. It's pretty obvious as to why, but he needs to figure out who is doing it and how to try and help Sarafea. That is, before he gets fired.
The book is very character driven. I think that the author writes them very well. Though some are kind of stereotypical, many have some pretty interesting characteristics and qualities that make them unique. As a main character, I think Wolfe was adequate. He seems like a really good guy and I do feel sorry for him because of the situations he's been dealt. However, at some points, I did find that his narration kind of droned on. My favourite character, by far, was Harer. I think he was really quite loveable and I appreciate that he kept on bouncing back from the hardships that were dealt to him. My favourite bit of the novel was Harer's story of how he made coffee in the navy. I had a good laugh at that and, every time I think about it, I still giggle uncontrollably.
In the beginning, I could quite understand Sarafea, even though we're meant to dislike her. I think the author does well in writing her at first. We hate her because from Wolfe's perspective, she's obviously quite controlling and doesn't really care for the opinions of others. Yet, seeing it from her perspective, I can see why she acts the way she does. She's obviously concerned for the success of the clinic and she makes decisions based on what she feels would work best for it. As an example, at one point Wolfe spent a while talking to a patient which turned out to be just gossiping (essentially). She made a comment that someone ought to have to pay for the time that was spent just doing that. I thought that was an entirely fair point on her part, being that Wolfe was pretty much just wasting time with the patient if it wasn't proper medical business that they were discussing. However, as the novel progresses, I think that the character writing goes a little overboard and I feel like I just don't understand her motives anymore. Even if it's just for money grabbing or something, I just lost any understanding for what she's doing. To make a separate point, I kind of felt like she was made to look a little too much like a joke in some portions. For example, with the "swamp gas" portion, I just think that no-one took it seriously and the same with the prior car incident. Many of these situations just don't seem as if anyone is taking it seriously. Even Wolfe, who is sort of trying to prevent her death, doesn't really seem like he's concerned that someone will lose their life. I know they're enemies and she's been nasty to him, but it just seems pretty awkward that he'll be concerned someone is trying to kill her and then the author will sort of mock her for it with Harer making snide comments.
Another character I'd like to mention is Jennifer. In the beginning, she was made to look like a trophy wife, as one character mentioned in particular. However, it seemed like the only reason she was a trophy wife is because he was so much older than she was. From the little we did see of her, I think that she was a reasonable character. She made reasonable demands of Wolfe and actually did seem to care about him. If anything, I'm kind of disappointed with the way she was treated by Wolfe. He was kind of rude to her, even making up a story about how she wakes so easily. I guess that, to him, it might seem like she's kind of prissy because of her not being able to sleep. Yet, if she can't sleep, that's hardly her fault (in my opinion). I really do think that she was a reasonable wife. In the end, I think she was somewhat loving to him and not nearly as much of a trophy wife as it was first insinuated. It seemed, in the beginning, that she was mentioned so little and there were very few portions even mentioning her. I think that it would better service the novel to give her a little more time to grow and for us to look into her relationship with Wolfe. Obviously the business at the clinic has an effect on their marriage, but we see relatively little of it.
As for the overall plot, I think it was somewhat interesting. I don't know what I would call this genre in particular, but I guess what I would describe it as is a drama located in a medical centre, combined with a whodunit. I appreciated that, with the mystery aspect, the author kept us guessing on who might be committing these crimes. It was interesting to see Wolfe's ideas on who it might be at any given time and his viewing each piece of evidence as it came to light. At a few points, I began to wonder whether it might be Wolfe who was the target as many of the incidents, he was directly involved with and in danger of being killed as well, more than Sarafea in some portions. As for the drama, I also liked the corporate theme that kept on running at the same time, that the changes in the clinic were also a portion of worry and concern to me. As with whether someone might die at any instant, it became bothersome to consider that Wolfe could lose his job at any moment and he wouldn't be able to serve his family as well. I think the author did well on that point, that there's more cause for concern than just the immediate loss of life, that the characters are dealing with a lot of mental stress and major changes that could be concern for their quality of life.
However, I think that there are several portions which were kind of unnecessary as they didn't really serve any real importance to me. The entire first portion of the book, for example. It seemed like a huge chunk was unnecessary. It was acting as an introduction, but I reckon that many of these things could have been introduced separately. The portion about his decisions of jobs was a little unnecessary; it could have been shortened to simply say that he had come to the After Hours clinic after leaving another horrible job and, suffice to say, he was stuck here for the time being. It's hard to explain, but it just spent so much time on Wolfe and his history when I feel like none of it was really used later on. Moving on, I think Chapter Seventeen (with the dog and its injury) was unnecessary as well; it just seemed like it doesn't have much bearing on the other events of the book. The author could pretty much just say something like, "Wolfe's weekend was difficult" and then lead on without needing to include the dog thing. Then, later on was another few periods of him jogging or exercising which just seemed to serve as relief for his mind, yet it just distracted from the flow of the novel. I think that the background information with Wolfe's first family- the twins and dead wife- was a bit pointless considering how little it was mentioned later in the book. It could probably have been left out entirely as it wasn't relevant. I think, for improvement, some of these portions could have been replaced with more relevant things. Later on in the novel, Wolfe's novel writing comes almost out of thin air for me. If it had been mentioned prior, I must admit that I had forgotten. I think that the author could have focused more time on Jennifer and this novel writing than some of these other portions mentioned in this paragraph.
Overall, I think it was a pretty good novel. Other than some character flaws and unnecessary data, I think it was well written. I think it's worth 4 stars.