When we think of mysteries or crime thrillers, what often comes to mind? Dark, rain-soaked alleys where a gristly murder has taken place? An abandoned asylum with a crazed serial killer chasing the protagonist? A gritty police drama that delves into an adrenaline-fueled adventure? These and so many more scenarios are known to play out for readers in the typical mystery thriller. Yet one concept that holds plenty of gristly and harrowing real-life events to fill out a thriller is the medical field.

In author Don W. Hill, M.D.’s The DNR Trilogy: Volume 1:  Backing the Wrong Primate, the author explores the concept of morality and justice through the eyes of a doctor with a haunting secret. A brilliant oncologist begins to write down the painful and harrowing story of his younger years, as the once promising physician experienced a series of tragic and dehumanizing events which began to degrade his own morality. As the years went on, Brewster would become the last man standing in a series of orchestrated acts of vigilante justice using his medical profession, compelling him in the future to put his journey down to paper to record the awful experiences and moments that have haunted him for so many years.

The novel itself is haunting and expertly crafted. While mystery and suspense play a large role in the novel’s arc, the story serves best as a character study. The evolution of Brewer as a character, from starting the book at the end of his career and seeing the psychological and emotional toll his life’s events have played on him, to jumping backwards and seeing his start in the medical field, really highlighted the strains that medical professionals are under both in learning the field and their specialties in treating their patients. This blended naturally with the examination of human suffering and morality as a whole, as it showcased what happens when those who seek to heal and care for humanity are confronted with the absolute worst that humanity has to offer, and how it can change a person overall.

This is the perfect read for those who enjoy mystery, suspense, and thriller genres. In particular, those who enjoy medical thrillers and medical suspense stories are going to absolutely love this read, especially as it serves as the first in a series and includes some pretty in-depth and gritty character development. As a fan of this genre and someone who worked in the medical field for a time, the story and the attention to detail that the medical terminology and aspects of the narrative showed felt natural and engaging.

Thoughtful, entertaining, and with a haunting tone, author Don W. Hill, M.D.’s The DNR Trilogy: Volume 1:  Backing the Wrong Primate is a must-read medical thriller. The exploration of everything from a doctor’s moral responsibility, the use of primates for experiments in medicine, racial injustice, and how to treat prisoners as patients really kept the reader invested and engaged in this narrative, as did the intense character study.