Scottish mysteries. A great get-away vehicle.

My goodness, it is difficult to write without diving straight into politics. I’m going to try to avoid the subject by telling you about a couple of really good books.

The first is Peter May’s new Coffin Road, a mystery set in Scotland and the Outer Hebrides. May writes both beautiful descriptions and complex, but credible plots. In this tale, he also weaves some serious environmental concerns into the mix of memory loss and murder. If you’re not already familiar with Peter May, start with his Lewis trilogy. The first of the three books is The Black House, followed by The Lewis Man and The Chessmen.

The second is Out of Bounds by Val McDermid. This is another Scottish murder mystery, and McDermid will have you turning pages as fast as you can! There’s also a marvelous subplot addressing the flood of Middle Eastern immigrants in Scotland. And she writes with a recognizable voice and accent.

Where am I going with this? There’s a whole world of marvelous writing and thinking going on that will, for a few hours at least, transport you away from the faux-immediacy of Wolf Blitzer and the talking heads. Enjoy it.

On a totally different topic, my wife and I have had some fairly routine interactions with the health care system over the past two months. As a patient, I sense the intrusion of the electronic health records (EHR) system in the process, and resent it. Both our primary care and specialty physicians have adopted the use of “scribes.” The presence of the scribe, with his or her laptop, becomes a “gorilla on the table” in terms of conversation with the physician. There has to be a better way!

Speaking of the EHR, I followed a couple of links in my morning e-mail and learned that M.D. Anderson Cancer Center had losses of over $100 million last year. “Dan Fontaine, the chief financial officer, attributed much of MD Anderson’s financial difficulties to the rocky implementation of an electronic health record system in 2016.”

Finally, Nesiritide. The Rise and Fall of Scios received a nice review in Kirkus Reviews. Please have a look and add your comments on the site.

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