Title: An Open Heart
Author: Harry Kraus
Print Publisher: David C Cook
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Narrator: Tim Gregory
Published: June 2013
Genre: Christian fiction, suspense
Length: 11 hours, 18 minutes. Unabridged.
About the Book: (from the publisher’s description on Amazon)
Their Messages—From Beyond the Grave—Might Destroy Him
They hover between life and death, their hearts stopped on the surgery table. And the messages Dr. Jace Rawlings’ open-heart surgery patients bring back from beyond the grave cannot be ignored. For they predict the deaths of people around him, and point a finger of suspicion straight at him.
It thrusts Jace into a firestorm of controversy and danger. A maelstrom blown by the darker winds of political intrigue and spiritual warfare. And the forces working against him will do anything to stop him from uncovering a truth they will kill to hide. He’d come to Kenya to establish a heart-surgery program for the poor. But what he will find in that place where he grew up will put everything at risk–his marriage, his career . . . his life.
My Thoughts on the Book:
I first heard about this book while I was in the midst of writing the first draft of my own novel about a missionary and a doctor that’s set partly in Kenya. Because I was struck by the similarities in setting and characters, I really wanted to read this one, but forced myself to wait until I’d finished writing the first draft of my own. And having read it at last, I’m glad I did take the time to read it, and particularly that I was able to listen to the audiobook edition, which is fabulous.
There’s a lot going on in this story. There’s medical drama including interesting details of a number of surgical cases in America and in Kenya. There’s the suspense surrounding who’s out to get our lead character and why… and what part a (rather creepy) witch doctor might play in that. There’s a mystery to unravel surrounding the events of one particular night that our lead character doesn’t remember following a head trauma. There’s an inspirational thread involving lost faith regained. And there are believable characters struggling through their hurts and fears.
I think my favorite part was the setting, which is vividly described in specific and authentic detail. Frequent readers of Christian fiction may have noticed that settings outside of the United States are fairly uncommon in the genre. With that in mind, I applaud the author’s choice to take a chance on a more exotic setting. It was interesting to consider the economics of saving lives and the difficult choices made in a country with limited resources. And in some ways, the setting became almost a character in its own right, as the local culture and customs had such an impact on the plot and characters.
Overall, a fascinating book, and if you’re an audiobook fan, I highly recommend Tim Gregory’s reading of it. His voice fits the main character well, and he uses variations in tone and inflection to portray the other characters of both genders well too. I was particularly impressed by his accurate (to the best of my knowledge anyway) pronunciation of foreign words and his portrayal of believable Kenyan accents. There are some very emotional scenes in this book, and the reading revealed just the right degree of emotion in those scenes to complement the written word and immerse the reader in the story.
I accessed this audiobook by checking it out from my library’s electronic collection via Hoopla.