Following is a review of An Open Heart by Harry Kraus, David Cook, Colorado Springs, CO., 2013.
This novel combines elements of medicine, religion, mysticism, witchcraft, political intrigue, corruption and marital tension into a fast paced readable novel. The story is set alternately in Richmond Virginia and Kijabe Kenya. The plot revolves around Jace Rawlings, an American surgeon, raised as a missionary kid in Kenya, who returns to Kijabe to start an open heart surgery practice. Hence the title, which also refers to Jace’s need to come to terms with his past and to open his heart to new revelations. He is burdened with a load of guilt with regard to his dead sister and to events in Virginia for which he seeks expiation in Kenya.
However, Jace inexplicably comes under attack from evil forces and the plot of the novel unwinds the whys and wherefores for such pressures. The tale backtracks to his estranged marriage in Richmond and his wife Heather’s questioning Jace’s love and truthfulness. He also poses to himself some of the same questions.
The Kenya setting is impeccable. While several of the Kenyan characters are overblown to suit the plot, others, especially the minor players are perfectly realistic. Those who know Kenya will nod in appreciation of the accuracy of the nuances such folks bring to the story.
Authors are admonished to “write what you know,” and Harry Kraus has done just that. He is a surgeon who works in Kenya. Obviously the plot is fabricated, but the details are fairly realistic. The only discordant note I spotted was that while the corrupt politician and his on-call witch doctor are Luos, the witch doctor operated out of Kisii, which is not in Luoland. Perhaps Kisii is a hot bed of evil practioners, but it is not where I would expect a Luo witchdoctor to reside
.In sum, An Open Heart pulls the reader along into the story. It is a fun read