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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Health care that isn't: a frightening medical mystery

Awhile back, Ryn Pitts and I both worked for the same health insurance company. We often talked about writing a book. I haven't; she has. And it's a thriller that's hard to put down. I applaud her accomplishment and am green with envy. In fact, I was greener than the peppers in my scrambled eggs when we met for breakfast at a restaurant not far from the downtown Fargo, N. Dak., loft she shares with her physician husband.

It's fun to learn from somebody's who's done it and Ryn has really done something with Deadly Benefits: a Medical Mystery, published this year by Smashbooks in both print and e-book formats.

Her novel starts in Bangkok, Thailand, in, as Ryn describes it, "a seedy part of town that makes Minnesota ice and snow look good." The mystery moves to Fargo, the epicenter of this fast-moving mystery. Early on, you'll read an electrifying description of a heart-pounding "cardiac event" in the trauma center of a local hospital. She calls it "Swedish Hospital," and some wags have been guessing which Fargo hospital she's referring to. Ryn tells us it's all fiction, but her writing is so realistic one soon forgets that.

As I read about physicians and medical personnel trying to save the life of a young woman, I started praying I was never caught in the picture Ryn paints with tension-filled detail. And about those details: nobody without Ryn's unique background could pen fiction this technically accurate and industry insightful. She puts some of today's critical problems in health care under a microscope. And it's quite scary if you happen to be a patient or a consumer of prescription drugs. And aren't we all?
Ryn Pitts

The reason this book is so dead-on (pardon the pun) is because Ryn has experience as a registered pharmacist, a former hospital and clinic administrator, and a health insurance executive. She has a talent for story-telling, enhanced through serious learning and unvarnished feedback. Ryn told me she belongs to a local writers' group that does not not sugar-coat criticism. "Sometimes I came home from those meetings and wanted to cry. I couldn't look at that manuscript for some time."

But she did get back to work and created what would become her debut novel. I'm glad she did. Ryn has produced a fascinating read, but with some important and very real insights into health care delivery and financing. It's a thriller you do not want to miss.

TO GET THE BOOK:  The e-book version sells for $3.99 and is available from "Smashwords" by clicking here. You can download for the Amazon Kindle (as I did) and for the Nook, iPAD, and other e-readers. For the Kindle, I bought the version for that device, downloaded it to my PC desktop, and then plugged-in my Kindle via USB cable. This allowed me to "slide" the book file over to the "documents" folder on the Kindle. Worked beautifully! For other e-readers, follow whatever you do to get "e-pubs" onto your device. Paper copies of the book are also available from Amazon.com by click on this link.

Print formatted books are also available locally (in Fargo-Moorhead) at Zandbroz  (where it was named the "best seller of the summer"), Stabo in West Acres, the Hjemkomst Gift Center in Moorhead, the Sanford Hospital Gift Shop and at other lakes' country and area bookstores. Deadly Benefits is also available through the Fargo Stuff website.