You know how in the movies you can tell when a story is going to be strange because of the music? They play that minor-key violin underscore which has a kind of sick sound to it, just to keep you on edge and to prepare you for the icky stuff that’s coming. When I opened Full Circle, I heard that damn violin, and it droned on throughout the entire book.
The story starts out fine, so well in fact, I thought this was going to be a pretty good read. Dr. Kate Madison, trauma specialist, works in one of Boston’s busiest ERs. One horrific case comes in after another, but Kate’s good at her job and handles her tasks with relative ease … until a badly battered woman is admitted. In the middle of attempting to save this woman’s life, Kate starts having flashbacks that jeopardize her concentration. During her shift, three patients die, and Kate is brought before the Big Cheese hospital administrator where she is summarily told to take an extended vacation … something tantamount to being fired. Kate packs it up and heads back to Louisiana to try to figure out where to go from here. At this point, Full Circle spirals downhill, and never recovers.
If you’re looking for a romance novel, you won’t find it here. The heroine and hero meet relatively late in the story … I wasn’t even sure this book had a hero until Dr. Sam Delacourt stepped into the room in Chapter 6. It seems Kate and Sam (who are both now around forty), had a sizzling affair five years earlier. Sam had been so attracted to Kate, he initiated a liaison with her, forgetting to mention his terminally ill wife, and young daughter. Some hero. Well, the late Mrs. Dr. Delacourt is no longer a problem, having conveniently died only a couple of weeks ago, but Kate wants nothing to do with the man who broke her heart and drove her into the arms of Robert, whom she married, but who ran off with his very young secretary.
Chain-smoking Victoria, Kate’s mom, is dying of cancer, but she didn’t tell Kate because they’ve never been close, plus Victoria didn’t want to bother Kate while she was in the throes of a divorce. Dr. Leo Castille, Kate’s pseudo-father, Victoria’s close “friend,” and father to Amber, Kate’s best friend, offers Kate a position in his clinic, working alongside Dr. Sam. Amber Castille Russo is married to alcoholic Deke, an ultra right-wing talk-radio sleaze who is such a stereotypical character he’s a cartoon, but who, with Amber, wants to keep up appearances so their highly visible careers won’t be affected by adverse publicity.
Nick Santana, Amber’s former lover, is now a police detective/lawyer who is recovering from a gunshot wound garnered when he and his partner were ambushed, and his partner was killed. Cody is Nick’s teenage son who is friends with Mallory, Dr. Sam’s teenage daughter, who is resentful because her mother died a couple of weeks ago and she hasn’t come to terms with it, nor with the fact that her neglectful dad will be working next to Kate, whom Diane Crawford, Dr. Sam’s long-time nurse who is, of course, in love with Sam, had told Mallory was having an affair with her father. Still with me?
Cody and Mallory are friends with Stephen Russo, Deke’s son and Amber’s step-son, who accidently shoots Cody with Nick’s gun, which Nick had left sitting loaded on the kitchen shelf. Right. Pamela LaRue, a rookie police officer is crazy for Nick, but Nick has the hots for his old love, Amber, who is busy working on her routine with her husband to make a big hit at the Fais do-do Festival, whatever the hell that is, because it was never explained in the story, nor in an author’s note. Oh, and just why does Kate keep having those flashbacks, and what really did happen the day their family’s boat burned and sank when she and Amber were five, and Kate’s father and Amber’s mother both died? When Deke shows up dead (thank God), who offed him, and why? Did I remember to mention that all these people live on the same block?
To make matters worse, each of these characters has been given a point-of-view! We get to hear all their thoughts, their motivations, their plans, their conversations with other characters. This story just went around and around and but never ended up anywhere. At the beginning, I suspected there was something fishy (sleazy-fishy) in one of the relationships, and when I got to that part, I just thought, give me a break, that’s disgusting. The only characters that I liked out of this whole menagerie were Kate and Cody. At one point, I liked Nick better than I liked Sam, until Nick does a skanky thing. He should have risen above his own lusts and gotten together with the only other person I liked in this book, Officer Pam.
There are loose ends galore; an improbable … yet predictable … murderer; primary, secondary, and support characters right out of central casting. If you’re looking for a potboiler with a bazillion characters and no real romance … you might be able to endure Full Circle better than I.