Control – Hugh Montgomery | @hugh_montgomery @ZaffreBooks #Control

Renowned surgeon Michael Trenchard locks his office door and prepares for a relaxing evening – Wagner on the sound system, a fine Scotch to hand. A knock at the door heralds the arrival of the person he most wants to see – the person who excites him more than anyone else. But what follows will turn his dreams into a living nightmare . . . for he will be discovered later that night in a locked-in coma, the victim of an auto-erotic asphyxiation. 

Can this really be an accident? It is left to Dr Kash Devan, Trenchard’s young protégé, to uncover the truth. What he discovers is chilling: in his ruthless pursuit of wealth and success Trenchard has left a trail of wrecked lives behind him. Which of his victims hated him so much they wanted not only his life, but also his reputation ruined?

Control was published on the 8th August 2019 by Zaffre Books. Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book for this review.

Control is an extremely clever and intelligent medical thriller that had me gripped from the outset. Whilst this is Hugh Montgomery’s debut novel, it is clear from the start that he knows what he is talking about…well he is a physician himself and a pioneer in the field of genetic research after all!

Control is set in the late 1980’s based at The Victory hospital in South-East London. Doctor Kash Devan has been working under renowned surgeon Michael Trenchard for 3 months when he is called to a cardiac arrest in his office. When he arrives, he doesn’t expect to see Trenchard in the compromising position that he is in following what is presumed to be an auto-erotic asphyxiation. The timeline then takes the reader back 3 months to give some background on Kash as well as interactions with Trenchard.

Whilst Kash doesn’t know Trenchard all that well personally, he isn’t convinced that the events that led to Trenchard’s current state were all of his own making however no one believes that there is anything suspicious. Particularly the hospital who are happy to brush events under the carpet and restore their positive reputation.

I absolutely love watching a good medical drama so I was very intrigued by the description of Control (and it looks pretty fabulous too!). I was most definitely not disappoint, I was as intrigued as Kash to find out what actually happened on that fateful night in Trenchard’s office, the initial things that raise red flags to Kash are pretty minor in the grand scheme of things however they are enough to raise suspicion, especially when strange things start to happen to Kash.

Control is quite a chunky read at just over 400 pages but it is so addictive so the words just flew off the page! It is told predominately from Kash’s perspective however this is interspersed with insights into Trechard’s state through his thoughts. These sections are, at times, quite difficult to read given his experiences. I really liked Kash’s character, he arrives at The Victory wanting to make a difference and do the right thing, he never in his wildest dreams he couldn’t imagine that is would be investigating a disturbing attack on his boss!

Medical terminology is obviously used throughout this book but the author ensures that this doesn’t alienate his non-medically qualified readers by explaining what procedures and drugs are. I found the subject of a patient being locked-in both fascinating and utterly terrifying at the same time! The idea that you know what is happening around you, can think coherently and experience pain without being able to actually move and communicate is both horrendous and a fantastic concept for a fictional thriller.

Control is a gripping and disturbing medical thriller, highly recommended to those who enjoy their thrillers!

Hugh Montgomery is a world leading professor of Intensive Care Medicine and Director of the UCL Institute for Human Health and Performance at University College London. A distinguished physician, Hugh is responsible for the first discovery of a gene related to physical fitness. He has been awarded the title of London Leader by the London Sustainable Development Commission for his work in climate change and health, and was a founding member of the UK Climate and Health Council.

Outside of medicine Hugh is also an endurance expert and has run three 100km ultra marathons. He holds the world record for underwater piano playing, has scaled the world’s sixth highest mountain, and has jumped naked from a plane at 14,000ft. He has published a children’s book The Voyage of the Arctic Ten and in 2007 presented the televised annual Royal Institution Christmas Lecture.

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