Latest Reviews



Margaret Cannon, From Saturday’s Globe and Mail, Published Friday, May. 06, 2011

Tampered – By Ross Pennie, ECW , 300 pages, $24.95 – This slick little medical thriller is the sequel to Tainted, the first Pennie novel that introduced public-health physician Dr. Zol Szabo. Tampered, set in Hamilton, Ont., proves Pennie – McMaster professor and practising physician – is no one-book wonder. This time out, the redoubtable Dr. Szabo is faced with a spate of food poisonings at Camelot Lodge, an upmarket residence for [Read more…]

Spring 2009, Issue #109

When Dr. Zol Szabo, the medical health officer at Hamilton-Lakeshore, hears the results of seven brain autopsies, he’s scared. Each of the brains shows a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD or mad cow). That’s a huge number of cases for the province of Ontario, and what’s more, it’s a variant of CJD that no one has even heard of. What is it and why has it just appeared?

This scary thriller is for [Read more…]

Debra Downey, Senior Editor

April 15, 2009

The best thing about Ancaster resident Ross Pennie’s first medical thriller is the news there’s two more novels in the works.

Recognizing Dr. Pennie’s talent for spinning an intriguing, page-turning tale, ECW Press has already signed on to continue the story of public health doctor Zol Szabo and other masterfully created characters who deal with frighteningly real epidemics.

A practicing physician and infectious-disease specialist, it’s no surprise Dr. Pennie is intimately familiar [Read more…]

Reviewed by Don Graves

April 4, 2009

Tainted is an outstanding mystery/medical thriller. Author and MD Ross Pennie hits all the high points: tension, absorbing descriptions of places (in Hamilton) that become an integral part of the action, tight pacing, and dialogue that is page-turning, thrusting the reader squarely into the core of the crisis.

To be successful, a medical thriller must feel real, and involve something that could actually happen to you. Tainted delves into political [Read more…]

By Joan Barfoot

April 18, 2009

One of the terrifically interesting things about some crime fiction is the way it can dunk readers into intriguing professions they know very little about.

So it is with Tainted, written by a Hamilton infectious disease specialist, about an investigation into the source of a fatal local outbreak of mad cow disease. Since presumably just about anyone can be stirred to anxiety about the many diseases and viruses, from mad cow to [Read more…]

By John Sullivan

May 10, 2009

As the world falls all over itself to respond to a threatened H1N1-flu pandemic, Ross Pennie’s Tainted (ECW Press, 240 pages, $25) is a timely, fascinating and scary simulation of the scientific detective work involved in an outbreak investigation.

Zol Szabo, associate chief medical officer of health for Hamilton-Lakeshore region, knows the three-case cluster of rapid-onset Creutzfeldt-Jakob (mad cow) disease that drops in his lap one bleak November night could be [Read more…]

March 5, 2009

First in a new medical mystery series starring Canadian public-health doctor Zol Szabo, Pennie’s novel is a taut and timely work of suspense. After a variant of mad-cow disease is found in several recent autopsies, Zol has only a few days to track down the source of the contamination before a media storm breaks and sends the public into a panic. With the help of assistant epidemiologist Natasha, medical professor Hamish, and [Read more…]

February 2, 2009

Canadian physician Pennie’s mystery debut introduces a winning protagonist, an Ontario public health doctor and former chef.

When Zol Szabo, a devoted single father to his disabled son, Max, gets word that his jurisdiction, which covers the province’s Niagara Escarpment, may be facing an outbreak of mad cow disease, Zol and his team must race to find the truth behind the mysterious deaths of three locals in order to avoid a public panic. Fans [Read more…]

June 27, 2009

We live in a remarkably safe spot in the world. Famine, war and pestilence happen somewhere else, far away. But danger can intrude even in Canada. It can be as near as the tap water we drink or the lettuce we eat. That’s the scary premise of Ross Pennie’s excellent debut novel, Tainted.

Zol Szabo is associate medical officer of health for Hamilton-Lakeshore. His egotistical and publicity-hungry boss is on the countdown for [Read more…]

By Frank Moher
August 1, 2009

Canada’s small publishers are not known for producing summer beach-reading material, but ECW Press has done a decent job of it with Tainted (subtitled A Doctor Zol Szabo Medical Mystery). It’s also not every day you come across a thriller featuring, as its central character, the associate medical officer of the Hamilton-Lakeshore Public Health Clinic. Talk about a Canadian action hero: “I have a certificate, and I know how to use it.”

But author Ross Pennie, [Read more…]