5 stars · book reviews · medical thriller

Past Aghast


Title: Past Aghast (Jack Bass Black Cloud Chronicles)
Author: Edwin Dasso M.D.
Kindle Edition; 448 pages
Published September 2012

You read about it in the headlines – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been blamed for a number of issues for war veterans but has it turned a man that people respect into a serial killer?

Because of his horrendous battleground experiences in Iraq, Colonel Jack Bass, MD, US Army, (ret.), has been left emotionally scarred with severe PTSD. Jack constantly struggles to manage his PTSD but is sometimes unaware of his actions while under the influence of this unwelcome mental demon. As the new Chairman of Anesthesia at Southern Medical Center, Jack thought he’d retired into the tame civilian job he’d dreamt of, but a series of bizarre murders and deaths have occurred at Southern Medical Center and Jack has unwittingly been swept into the investigation. He soon discovers that his history of PTSD has somehow even made him a prime suspect and that a “trial of peers” may have already given him a death sentence!

Could his PTSD cause him to do heinous deeds which he might otherwise never do in a hundred lifetimes?

Jack must determine for the sake of his own sanity, as well as clearing his name, if his PTSD has gone beyond just a cause of recurrent nightmares and has transformed him into a cold-blooded killer.

It can’t possibly be true, but…?

This is perhaps one of the best medical thrillers I have ever read. The author clearly has profound medical background as he coherently described the unexpected, the successful and the tragic events that take place in a hospital. The last medically inclined novel that I have read really impressed me, and it was more than a year ago when I last read it. I thought Past Aghast might pale in comparison. But I was so wrong! I have never read a book that had me groping for my blanket while reading at the dead of the night. The morbidity of the characters as well as the gritty gory scenes were like magnets to my mind, they kept on appearing even in my sleep. I thought I would never wake up again.

If the main purpose of the author is to scare its readers, he very well succeeded in that area. PAST AGHAST is a pure medical thriller that will make you wish to never ever see a doctor again. Dealing with men of medical profession is an overwhelming experience, but dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is another. While I never experienced PTSD, I have known other people close to me who are having a hard time coping with the present and the reality. 


The main character, Dr. Jack Bass, had experienced a lot of trauma in his past military service; he was even thought to be a nutcase. When he thought everything was under his control, he loses it. And a number of murder cases happen when he was around. Could it be possible that he committed this heinous crime? This chilling story won’t let you fall asleep.

The author, Edwin Dasso, M.D. is a brilliant storyteller, and I can say that he is also a great surgeon, based on his vast knowledge on the novel. While I was reading Past Aghast, I couldn’t help but think about a lot of Michael Palmer and his books (The Patient, Silent Treatment and Side Effects were my favorites). Both have medical backgrounds but each has his own unique approach in writing. What made Dasso stand out for me is his knack of graphically detailing some scenes that might evoke stress to the reader. In my book, it means he is very effective in tingling and stimulating my imagination. That’s why I am giving Past Aghast 5 stars!

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