This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Heartbeat Away
David C. Cook (September 1, 2012)
Harry Kraus

A Word from Harry:
I started writing my first novel during my last year of surgery training at UK. I was a chief resident, and started writing Stainless Steal Hearts in a call room at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Lexington. It was a crazy time to write! I had a very demanding schedule, often spending days and nights in the hospital. I had two sons at that time, and I recognized the wisdom in my wife's urging: "Now doesn't seem the right time for this dream."

My experience as a writer is far from typical. Having received my formal training in biology and chemistry and medicine, my only preparation for a writing career was a love for reading. The longest thing I'd written before my first novel was a term paper in undergraduate school. My first novel was accepted by Crossway Books and published in 1994, and it wasn't until after I had FOUR published novels that I even opened a book of instruction about the craft of writing fiction. This is not what I recommend to others! Yes, I was successful, but I was bending the "rules" without knowing it. I had a natural talent for plotting, but I realize my initial success may have stunted my growth as a writer. I'd have made faster progress if I'd have gone to the fiction teachers sooner.

I have three sons: Joel, Evan, and Samuel. Look closely in all of my books and you'll see them there. My lovely wife, Kris, provides the basic composition for all those beautiful, athletic, dedicated women in my novels.

When a brilliant surgeon undergoes a heart transplant, her life transforms as she begins experiencing memories of a murder she never witnessed.

The residents worship her. Nurses step out of her way. Her colleagues respect and sometimes even fear her. But surgeon Tori Taylor never expected to end up on this side of the operating table.

Now she has a new heart. This life that was formerly controlled and predictable is now chaotic. Dr. Taylor had famously protected herself from love or commitment, but her walls are beginning to crumble.

And strangest of all, memories surface that will take her on a journey out of the operating room and into a murder investigation.

Where there once was a heart of stone, there is a heart of flesh. And there is no going back.
If you'd like to read the first chapter excerpt of A Heartbeat Away, go HERE.

REVIEW: I'm so thankful for the review copy of this astounding book! Wow, so many surprises right up until the last page. This story is a page turner and will keep you up late at night engaged with his spell bounding plotlines and will grip your heart with endearing characters I instantly cared for. This book is going on Finding Hope Book Club's voting list for sure! There's so much to talk about!
Harry Kraus w/Finding Hope Book Club
In the back of this book is a note from the author that says, "Getting to Know Harry..."

He says, "The writing part of my life comes at the book ends of days filled with sweat and blood. The sweat is mine; the blood, my patient's. My clinics are filled with people who have long ignored their cancers and have often visited "traditional healers" who only worsened their situations. There is little time during the day to turn my thoughts to the craft of fiction, so that comes when the lights in the clinic are off and the last patient has either been admitted or found a ride up the rutted road toward the highway.......

My greatest passion and motivation is to see christ treasure in the hearts of all people. That may sound like an impossible goad to get a handle on, but I believe it is helpful to understand the target and how my work may or may not fit.

To this end, I believe medicine (and surgery in particular) is a wonderful field of God-sent opportunities: people come to surgeons in crisis. And these crises create a situation where people finally start asking the right questions about eternity. Many of these people would never seek out a pastor; but, by necessity, they find themselves in my office. And there, with permission, we hope to offer compassion, prayer, and the science and art of healing surgery. Here in Kenya.

I practice in a mission-hospital setting, and many of the patients come face-to-face wit the gospel during their hospital stays. It may be a word from a physician, a nurse, the woman who mops the floor, or a chaplain, but my prayer is that everyone has an opportunity to hear the greatest news ever!!....

I hope that a small message of hope, faith, or grace is absorbed. My desire is that Kraus fiction will nudge people close to a life where Jesus is treasured. to that end, I desire my protagonists to be real: people with problems. Not all of my protagonists are Christians; many, like Tori in this book, find faith as a result of the conflicts they face. When I write about a Christian character, it is important to me to show them as real people with real life issues. Christians struggle with doubt, Christians have pain, Christians are tempted, Christians fall, get angry and struggle with materialism and lust. So, if you are reading Kraus fiction, expect a transparent look into real life. You wont' see a rose-pedal-strewn pathway for the Christians in my novels. That's just not reality. ....

I sincerely believe that the world doesn't need more perfect Christians; the world needs transparency! Christians who are willing to say "I haven't got it all together, but I'm holding the hand (actually, I'm engraved on His!) of the One who does."

I appreciate the author sharing this with the reader. It's exactly what he delivers in his new book. I had the opportunity to hear Harry Kraus speak to Finding Hope's book club a few years back. It was amazing to hear about the operating facilities and the conditions in which he practiced medicine. He shared his testimony and how the Lord drew him and his family to Africa. Equally as fascinating was hearing about how he and his family have grown to love this country and it's people.

The story kicks off with the medical drama of a heart transplant surgery for a surgeon named,  Tori, nicknamed "ice princess". She's a horrible patient and hard on the nurses. Then the police drama as Tori gets involved in a murder mystery. She learns about love and peace for her soul in the middle of it all- fun! 

I loved the humor Harry mixes into this story as well, for example. Tori wakes up after having a heart transplant and is reaping what she has sown in bashing the nursing staff at the hospital for years. She says to the Dr. observing how the nurses were treating her.

"Don't, Tori said. "I've not made many friends among the nursing staff. Now I'm paying for it."

"It's still not right." He flipped open his cell phone. "I'll call my team..."

"Ever heard of the golden rule?" 

"Sure", Dr. Marsh said. "I went to Sunday school."

"Good," she said. "I didn't. So you should know better. This is what you get when you don't use it."

Harry Krause speaking @ Finding Hope Book Club 
I especially connected with the authors last statement  in the back of the book which says, "the world needs transparency not more perfect Christians.... I haven't got it all together, but I'm holding the hand of the One who does."  Now, That's the take away from this book. I love how he interweaves the characters struggles with faith and how they deal with the temptations of this life in the middle of all the drama and suspense.

This author brings a honest realism to his stories and a refreshing transparency to his characters that will leave you thinking and feeling for his characters and their situation long after you close the book. They will be forever in your heart and mind. I highly, highly recommend this book.

Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network 


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