The First to Say No
by Charles C. Anderson
The First to Say No opens with a gritty, realistic rape scene as one of Parkview Hospital's ED doctors, Elita Romanov, regains consciousness to find herself tied to a table and being assaulted by a member of the Plagues gang. Because of her specialized military training in her native Chechnya, she is able to kill her assailant and his partners, escape and blow up a gang house as several other Plagues walk in.
The Plagues have terrorized the citizens of Watertown and especially the ED staff for years, but attacks were now coming daily. The hospital administration refuses to protect or support its emergency staff, fearing that the presence of armed officers and metal detectors would frighten the public. The local police are corrupt, taking money from the Plagues to ignore their drug enterprises. Elita is the latest in a string of ED staff who have become assault victims, but her experience galvanizes the female staff to fight back.
Elita and her friend, Dr. Kate Taylor, discuss ways of dealing with the Plagues and decide that killing them is the only solution. How to go about ridding Watertown of these violent drug abusers/pushers is the next issue they must decide. Whatever they do must be undertaken with caution, so that none of their co-workers, friends or family members are implicated in the plot.
As Kate debates methods of killing the Plagues, she is stunned to discover that her mother killed her abusive stepfather with continued overdoses of a blood thinner prescribed for her mother. A chance encounter in the ED with an alcoholic who had accidently killed himself with acetaminophen gives Kate the idea to use acetaminophen to kill the Plagues. But how to overdose them without getting caught?
It is Kate's mother who solves this conundrum by suggesting that the common painkiller be hidden in homemade chocolate bars and moonshine. Slowly, Kate's mother, one of her mother's friends, a sympathetic neighbor, and several members of the ED staff become complicit in the plot to kill the Plagues and document the police corruption.
Within a matter of weeks, the gang is decimated by a lethal combination of acetaminophen-laced chocolate and moonshine and a mystery sniper who takes out the survivors one and two at a time. Ridding Watertown of its "Plague" does not come without cost, however, as Kate's mother and her neighbor, both suffering from terminal illnesses, take their own lives after implicating themselves in the string of homicides to cover for the younger doctors, nurses and EMTS actually responsible. The climax of the book is Dr. Kate Taylor's fight to the death in a water fountain with her chief nemesis, the last of the Plagues.