May Read of the Month: “Treatment Plan” by Darryl Bollinger

Gripping—because the story is expertly crafted to grab you by the neck and not let go. Horrifying—because the very people who should be helping drug-addicted patients are instead motivated to make sure they stay addicted. Important—because even though Treatment Plan, by Darryl Bollinger, is fictional, similar events are happening to real families. Yes, Treatment Plan is a gripping, horrifying, important page-turner that deserves a wide audience. This is Bollinger’s eighth medical thriller, so he knows his way around the genre. He creates tension on every page, nuanced characters, and a plot so well-paced that readers will be tempted to read the book in one setting.

Because the protagonist Jon Cruz lives on a boat in South Florida marina (Delray Beach, specifically), the story immediately brings to mind the great Travis McGee suspense stories by John D. MacDonald and also Randy Wayne White’s Doc Ford novels. Treatment Plan compares well to these iconic stories because of its intense pacing and suspense, as well as the ever-present marina and dangers of the ocean.

The story opens when Jon, a former federal agent, spots a probable drug dealer leading young Ricky out of Hank’s Galley, the local bar where Jon now works. In short order, Jon manages to disarm and tie up the drug dealer until current law enforcement can show up. In an action that reveals Jon’s true character, he lets Ricky take off. He is determined to help the young man stay off drugs. He befriends this kid who has had a rough beginning to life. Jon locates and pays for a good counselor for Ricky, one who hopefully will help him overcome his addiction. Jon tells us right away that “for most addicts, rehab was a revolving door, which suited treatment centers. Typical of the U.S. health care system, you made money from doing things, not from fixing things.”

Beth is the officer who arrives on the scene, and her competence plays an important role throughout the novel. Beth knows Jon is lying when he claims not to know who was buying drugs. She also knows he is lying when he says he is doing fine. She informs him he is “as full of shit as a Christmas turkey.” Bollinger lets us know Jon’s past is troubled—and that’s why he is a former federal agent—but the author slowly and skillfully unspools the reasons behind his trouble. Beth informs Jon that someone has dumped yet another overdose at the hospital. This one survived. The magnitude of the drug problem is apparent.

More trouble arrives for Jon in the form of a phone call from his old service buddy Trey Stevens. Trey’s only daughter Haley has gone missing from a drug treatment program right there in Delray Beach. Jon and Trey’s search for Haley becomes the heart of the novel. Can they find out what happened to her—and intervene before drugs take her life?

In addition to Beth, two other female characters are important to the story. Addie, the owner of Hank’s Galley and Jon’s boss, supports him in many ways. She’s a true friend. And then there’s Nora, a nurse who becomes a love interest and adds layers of complication to the plot.

Several male characters also figure prominently, including two representing the treatment facilities, Kip Foster and Dr. Stuart Westbrook. Two others, Carlos and Ramon, deal drugs. Jon’s task is to uncover the connections between the treatment facilities and the dealers and stop them before more people die—especially Haley.

If you like novels full of action and surprises, and stories centered on social issues, Treatment Plan is one you won’t want to miss.

Darryl Bollinger

Bollinger lives in Western North Carolina. He spent twenty-eight years working in the health care industry and has a master’s degree in health care administration from Trinity University. His other award-winning novels include The Healing Tree, The Cure, Satan Shoal, The Care Card, The Pill Game, The Medicine Game, and A Case of Revenge.

Full disclosure: Darryl Bollinger used to live in Tallahassee, and I met him through the Tallahassee Writers Association and consider him and his wife June friends.



  1. Way to go, Darryl! Looking for the ebook now!

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