Be­neath the Wake just what the doc­tor or­dered

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - DE­BRA DOWNEY Hamil­ton Com­mu­nity News

Ross Pen­nie likes to keep peo­ple up at night.

The au­thor of four med­i­cal thrillers, Pen­nie’s great­est com­pli­ment is hear­ing read­ers say they just couldn’t stop turn­ing the pages.

“Peo­ple have told me that they’re up to one or two (in the morn­ing) with a book be­cause they couldn’t put it down,” said Pen­nie. “As an au­thor, I’m thrilled to hear that be­cause it means it feels real, it’s tense and the reader just has to keep read­ing.”

The lat­est novel in Pen­nie’s med­i­cal thriller se­ries hit the book­store shelves ear­lier this year. In “Be­neath the Wake”, pub­lic health in­ves­ti­ga­tor Dr. Zol Sz­abo, his son and new girl­friend are pur­su­ing some rest and re­lax­ation by sail­ing the In­dian Ocean on a small luxury cruise ship.

As the ship’s oc­cu­pants be­gin to drop dead, Dr. Zol re­luc­tantly joins the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and dis­cov­ers al­most ev­ery­one on board is har­bour­ing dis­qui­et­ing se­crets.

While “Be­neath the Wake” was pub­lished in May, Pen­nie said the “em­bryo of an idea” was ac­tu­ally sparked in 1995 dur­ing a cruise he took with his wife, Lorna, and the cou­ple’s two young chil­dren.

“We met a fam­ily with some pe­cu­liar­i­ties and whom we be­lieve might have been trans­port­ing il­le­gal goods un­der the guise of be­ing a fam­ily,” said Pen­nie.

Since then, the Pen­nies have be­come avid world­wide cruis­ers. The An­caster res­i­dent said he has of­ten found him­self on board a ship mus­ing about drugs, nu­clear weapons, ter­ror­ists, ports of calls and in­di­vid­u­als with ne­far­i­ous in­tent. This is Pen­nie’s fourth med­i­cal thriller and fol­lows on the heels of the highly ac­claimed Tainted in 2009, Tam­pered in 2011 and Up in Smoke in 2013.

Pen­nie started writ­ing at the age of 10 by chron­i­cling a solo four-day train trip he made across the Cana­dian Prairies. His first book, a mem­oir of Pa­pua New Guinea called The Un­for­giv­ing Tides, was pub­lished in 2004.

Be­fore his re­tire­ment, Pen­nie spent 39 years work­ing as an in­ten­sive-care pe­di­a­tri­cian and in­fec­tious-dis­eases spe­cial­ist at McMaster, then Brant­ford Gen­eral Hospi­tal.

He said although he has taken a break from the day-to-day rou­tine of work­ing in a lab­o­ra­tory, he is not re­tired from writ­ing.

“I love the cre­ative process and I love spend­ing time with the char­ac­ters.

“They seem very real ... it’s al­most as though they live with us,” said Pen­nie. “I also find writ­ing med­i­ta­tive. I en­joy be­ing on my own, so there is a med­i­ta­tive and re­flec­tive as­pect to it.”

“Be­neath the Wake” is pub­lished by ECW Press, $29.95, and is avail­able at all ma­jor book­stores.

Au­thor Ross Pen­nie

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