Review

An Open Heart

by Harry Kraus

A few months ago, heart surgeon Jace Rawlings saved the Virginia governor’s life, warranting him praise from the press, the state, and especially the governor’s young and beautiful wife, Anita. But some time later, he woke up in the hospital to learn he had been in an accident that resulted in Anita’s death. Jace has no memory of the accident. Or so he says, according to his wife, Heather. She can’t help wondering if Jace is using amnesia to avoid telling her the truth about why he had been in a car alone with the governor’s wife. Eventually, once Jace recovers from his head injury, Heather asks him to leave.

With his marriage in shambles and public speculation regarding his relationship with Anita, running away from it all seems like a great idea to Jace. And when he receives a message from his twin sister, Janice, in a dream, he thinks the answer is clear. He will return to his childhood home of Kenya to open a medical clinic, performing open heart surgery on the African people who can’t afford it. But after being thrown into a Kenyan jail within hours of arriving, Jace is reconsidering his decision. He is released quickly, but not before getting beat up and robbed by a fellow inmate. This “bad luck” pretty much sets the tone for the journey upon which Jace is about to embark.

"AN OPEN HEART is a combination of medical, political and supernatural thriller. Each adds a significant element to the story, and they all work together to create an excellent and page-turning read."

Jace is battling a legion of demons. Raised a missionary’s kid, he had a Christian foundation, but too many disappointments --- including the tragic death of his twin sister --- have prevented him from fully believing in God, let alone the idea of a loving God. Even though he went through the “Christian” motions at home in his relationship with Heather, doubt and cynicism have taken root. Jace has never been able to understand the strong faith his sister, Janice, embraced and walked out. And he certainly could never live up to her memory.

Trying to forget everything that happened back in the States, Jace throws himself into his third world mission. But when patients on the brink of death are revived with messages for him from beyond, he can’t ignore the fact that something --- or Someone --- is trying to get his attention. Will Jace respond to God’s call before it’s him flatlining on that table?

The story alternates between Africa and America. While Jace is busy saving lives, dealing with ghosts from his past and fighting a spiritual warfare in Kenya, back in the States Heather is trying to uncover the truth about Jace’s accident, more for her peace of mind than to clear her husband of any wrongdoing. But it becomes clear that somebody doesn’t appreciate Heather digging around and will do whatever it takes to stop her.

The physical conflict presented in this book is a plethora of intrigue and mystery, involving everything from the Virginia governor to Jace’s accident, Kenyan political powers-that-be and witch doctors. But even more compelling is the spiritual conflict taking place in Jace’s heart. It’s this internal struggle between good and evil, belief and unbelief, light and darkness that is the driving force of this novel.

AN OPEN HEART is a combination of medical, political and supernatural thriller. Each adds a significant element to the story, and they all work together to create an excellent and page-turning read. Author Harry Kraus is not only a surgeon himself, he also currently resides in Kenya, working as a medical missionary, so the story --- from dialect to setting to cultural issues --- comes across authentically and effortlessly.

If you’re a fan of medical or political thrillers, you’ll want to pick up a copy of this one. The spiritual implications will tug at your heart, and the fast-paced action will keep your ticker racing from beginning to end.

Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on August 15, 2013

An Open Heart
by Harry Kraus