A young mother is recuperating in a San Francisco hospital when she is suddenly gasping for breath. The call button fails to bring help in time. The hospital's doctors, some of the best in the nation, are completely mystified by her death. How did this happen?
This is not the first such case at the hospital. Just as patients are about to be released with a clean bill of health, their conditions take a devastating turn for the worse.
Accompanied by the newest member of the Women's Murder Club, Yuki Castellano, Lieutenant Lindsay Boxer probes deeper into the incidents. Could these cases just be appalling coincidences? Or is a maniac playing God with people's lives? When someone close to the Women's Murder Club begins to exhibit the same frightening symptoms, Lindsay fears no one is safe.
THE 5TH HORSEMAN RIDES.
It is a wild race against time as Lindsay's investigation reveals a hospital administration determined to shield its reputation at all costs. And while the hospital wages an explosive court battle that grips the entire nation, Lindsay and the Women's Murder Club hunt for a merciless killer among its esteemed medical staff.
THERE WERE NO WINDOWS in the waiting room. The hands of the clock above the coffee machine inched around the dial, cycling the afternoon into night and midnight into morning. Dr. Garza never returned, and he never sent us any word.
During those eighteen long hours, Yuki and I took turns pacing, getting coffee, and going to the ladies' room. We ate vending-machine sandwiches for dinner, traded magazines, and, in the eerie fluorescent silence, listened to each other's shallow breathing.
At just after 3:00 a.m. , Yuki fell sound asleep against my shoulder-waking with a start twenty minutes later.
"Has anything happened?"
"No, sweetie. Go back to sleep."
But she couldn't do it.
We sat shoulder to shoulder inside that synthetically bright, inhospitable place as the faces around us changed: the couple with linked hands staring into the middle distance, the families with young children in their arms, an elderly man sitting alone.
Every time the swinging door to the ER opened, eyes would snap toward it.
Sometimes a doctor would step out.
Sometimes shrieks and cries would follow.
It was almost 6:00 in the morning when a young female intern with weary eyes and a blood-smeared lab coat came out of the ER and mangled Yuki's name.
"How is she?" Yuki asked, bounding to her feet.
"She's more alert now, so she's doing better," said the intern. "We're going to keep her for a few days and do some tests, but you can visit as soon as we settle her into her room."
Yuki thanked the doctor and turned to me with a smile that was far more radiant than was reasonable, given what the doctor had just told her.
"Oh-my-God, Linds, my mom's going to be okay! I can't say how much it means to me that you stayed with me all night," Yuki said.
She grabbed both of my hands, tears filling her eyes. "I don't know how I could have done this if you hadn't been here. You saved me, Lindsay."
I hugged her, folded her in.
"Yuki, we're friends. Anything you need, you don't even have to ask. You know that, right? Anything.
"Don't forget to call," I said.
"The worst is over," said Yuki. "Don't worry about us now, Lindsay. Thank you. Thank you so much."
I turned to look behind me as I exited the hospital through the automatic sliding doors.
Yuki was still standing there, watching me, smiling and waving good-bye.
Copyright © 2006 by James Patterson