Melissa Yi could slice your throat and sew it back up again. Legally. Because she's an emergency doctor. This background inspires her to create her heroine, Dr. Hope Sze, who leaps from fixing ingrown toenails to solving full-blown murder. Melissa won the 2023 Derringer Award for the best short mystery in the English language and the Prix Aurora Award for the best speculative poem in Canada. She lives with her family, including two rescue dogs, in Eastern Ontario. Please find her at and receive a free gift with a newsletter subscription.

Notorious D.O.C. by Melissa Yi

A mother who burns for justice. The doctor who can't say no. And the killer who lies in wait.

Dr. Hope Sze solved her first murder case a week ago, and almost got strangled in the process. Now Hope just wants to pass her psychiatry rotation. No more Sherlock Holmes-ing for Hope. Ever.

Until her first psych patient says, "My daughter is dead. And somebody killed her."

Hope can't walk away from this grieving mother. Yet how can Hope solve a murder that stumped Montreal's police department for the past eight years?

Sifting through the cold case, Hope recruits two hot, brilliant men to their cause. Yet as they draw ever-closer to the truth, the killer shifts out of the shadows.

This psychopath has waited eight long years to kill again.

Now Hope must protect not only herself, but two innocent men and a mother who yearns for retribution.

Notorious D.O.C.

A psychological thriller about family ties, revenge, and the outer edge of sanity.


I love Melissa Yi's Hope Sze series so much that I asked Melissa to include the first novel in the series in a previous Storybundle. This time, she contributes the second novel in the series—and yes, this novel does stand alone. It's a great introduction to some marvelous medical mysteries, written by a woman who works as a doctor herself. Not only is Hope real, but so is the Montreal she works in. Not many people can write good medical mysteries, but Melissa Yi can. – Kristine Kathryn Rusch



  • In her second outing, Dr. Hope Sze fights a losing battle with her twin lusts for sleuthing and men, driven by her concern for others to investigate the death of another young doctor who bears her a strong resemblance. An entertaining cast of secondary characters spices up both her detective work and her love life. An off-beat glance at the medical profession adds to the fun. A solid addition to this intriguing series.

    – Amazon Review
  • Yay!! After reading Code Blues, I couldn't wait to get my hands on Notorious D.O.C. and I was not disappointed. This book is a real thriller and kept me focused right until the last page. The pace is quick, and the character development is excellent. Hope Sze continues to entertain and impress with her humour and insight. Can't wait to start the next!

    – Amazon Review
  • Having done my residency in Montreal, this thrilling novel seemed almost real!! The places described and the characters felt so realistic, I could easily imagine them while walking in Côte-des-Neiges. Can't wait to read the next one!!

    – Amazon Review



I'd avoided St. Joseph's emergency room for the past week, but it hadn't changed. Stretcher patients lined the wall and spilled into the hallway. Fluorescent lights turned everyone's skin yellow, even though most of them weren't Asian like me.

I smiled at a nurse who squeezed my arm and said, "Welcome back, Hope!" just before a patient's wrinkled mother waved me down.

"Miss. We need a blanket!"

Home, sweet home.

Well, sweet except for the smell of stool drifting from bed 12.

I nodded at a few fellow medical residents. Officially, we're doctors in our first post-graduate training year, formerly known as interns. Unofficially, we're scut monkeys rotating from service to service. I'd debuted in emergency medicine last month and ended up tracking down a murderer who almost killed me.

I had to take a week off, which meant I was late starting my psych rotation. Duty called. I perched on the chair in the psych corner of the nurses' station, near the printer, and grabbed the chart for a Mrs. Regina Lee.

One of my favourite emerg nurses, Roxanne, paused and shoved a pen behind her ear. "Hope! Nice to see you. Are you doing okay?"

I nodded. We hugged. She smelled like Purell, and she was built like me, skinny but strong. Once she told me her Italian grandmothers practically cried when they saw her, they found her so emaciated-looking.

Roxanne glanced at the blue plastic card clipped to my chart. "Oh, no. You got Mrs. Lee. Is it Fall already?"

I frowned. "August eighth?" After sitting in school for twenty-odd years of my life, including most summer vacations, I hate when people call autumn prematurely. As far as I'm concerned, it's still summer until the snow hits the ground. I don't even like to see the leaves change colour. Call it denial if you want. Whoa—I was in psych mode already.

Roxanne shrugged. "Close enough. She always comes here. Especially around now. It's very sad."


"Did you know Laura Lee?"

I hesitated.

She shook her head. "You're too young. Anyway. She was a resident here. Star of her year."

A resident, just like me. "What does that have to do with Mrs. Lee? Are they related?"

Roxanne pointed to the clipboard. "I'll let Mrs. Lee tell you. It's her favourite story."


I glanced at the triage note, even though my mind was on one scut monkey in particular. A blond dude. A guy who appreciated sausages and beer and me, not necessarily in that order. A guy I'd overlooked when I first came to Montreal for my residency, but I wasn't about to make that mistake again.

Sadly, no matter how casually I glanced out of the corners of my eyes, John Tucker did not appear.

I strode through the open door of room 14, the designated psych room. The stretcher and its five-point restraints stood empty, but a woman sat in a chair by one indented white wall. "Mrs. Lee?"

She clutched the clunky leather purse in her lap as she turned to face me. Her permed black hair was streaked with white, but I noticed her strong cheekbones and her skin, still enviably smooth considering her sixty-four years. Although her lips parted, no sound emerged.

"Hi." I held out my hand.

She didn't take it. My hand hovered in the air until I shoved it back in my lab coat pocket. Then I remembered that I was trying to improve my body language and dropped my hand to my side. The smell of bloody stool wafted toward us from room 12, and we both winced before I changed the subject. "My name is Dr. Hope Sze. I'm a resident from psychiatry. Could we—"

She stared at me with such intensity, I faltered.

Her eyes filled with tears.

Oh, dear. She really was depressed. The psychiatric patients who come to the emergency room are usually depressed or psychotic. I set her file down on the desk and scanned the room for tissues. They always kept a box handy on psych.

She said something in Chinese.

"I'm sorry. I don't speak Chinese. But I could get a translator if you like." My parents thought we should be Canadian and always spoke English to us.

She reached a hand toward my face, gazing at me like she was in a dream.

I flinched, not wanting to jerk away, but mildly freaked. Who was this woman?

She checked herself. Her hand dropped to her side and she tried to smile. "Excuse me," she said, in perfectly good English. "It's just that you look so much like my daughter."

I relaxed a little. "Oh. That's nice. Is your daughter, ah, here with you?"

"Not anymore." Her brown eyes met mine. "She's dead. Somebody killed her."

My shoulders tensed. It's an answer you'd never expect. And, even though I tried not to be superstitious, I found it eerie that her dead daughter had been a resident who looked just like me.

She blinked. The tears already shining in her eyes dripped on to her cheeks. She ignored them, still staring at me. "I'm sorry," she said. "You must think me very foolish."

"Not at all."

She dabbed her eyes with a tissue she extracted from her purse. "I know you're not Laura. I know she's gone. It's just that I've been without hope for so long."

I twitched. My name, Hope, is a constant sore spot for me. When people mention the concept, I always feel like they're talking about me, although Mrs. Lee was the most poignant example.

She shook her head. "I know what they say about me, that I can't accept my daughter's death. They think it's tragic, but I should move on after eight years."

Although the emerg nurse, Roxanne, hadn't rolled her eyes, I could imagined others would, and Mrs. Lee knew it. To use psych lingo, Mrs. Lee had insight, meaning that she understood her condition. A lot of psych patients don't. They think you're the nutbar who doesn't receive the secret messages from the Cadbury commercial, and they're perfectly sane.

So far, Mrs. Lee didn't seem crazy, just sad.

Somehow that was worse.

Her mouth twisted with what might have been humor under different circumstances. "They even think I should move so I'll 'make new memories' and, not coincidentally, remove myself from their sector."

I nodded. I only knew about sectors because Tucker, who did psych last month, had explained them to me. The Island of Montreal was carved into psychiatry "sectors" according to postal code. If you had mental health issues, you had to go to whatever hospital sector you belonged to. No exceptions, even if it made no sense. We had patients who were literally born at St. Joe's and lived across the street, but they had to get downtown for their psychiatrist.

Mrs. Lee already knew this, which was a little scary. She was clearly an intelligent woman who'd been grieving for eight years. What was I going to do for her? I'd better steer her away from the subject of her daughter's death, even though I really wanted to know how she'd died. Curiosity not only killed the cat, it lured me into medical school—and into fighting crime, although I'd hung up my magnifying glass after my first and only case last month. "I'm very sorry for your loss. Maybe we should start at the beginning. How would you describe your mood, on a scale of one to ten—"

She waved her hand, cutting me off. "I already have a psychiatrist. Dr. Saya is happy to prescribe me medication or let me run off at the mouth, but I don't want to talk about it anymore. I want justice."

Justice. I knew I should get back on track, asking her about depression, but I couldn't resist. "Have you talked to the police?"

She laughed and tossed her tissue in the garbage. Two points. "They know me well. They say I don't have any proof it wasn't an accident. It was a hit and run, you see."

Well. Maybe it really was an accident. I crossed my legs. "Do you have any proof?"

She leaned forward and placed her hands on her knees, eyes suddenly sharp. "You believe me, don't you?"

I hesitated. I yearned to say yes, even though my logic and medical training shied away from her.

She shook herself. "How silly of me. Of course you don't, yet. But I could show you what I have. I have an entire file on Laura."

I had to draw the line at sorting through Laura's gap-toothed elementary school photos and stellar report cards. "I'm sure you do, Mrs. Lee, but—"

"Not that kind of file. Evidence. The police reports. The autopsy." She paused. "I used to carry it with me, but most people here have seen it already and don't take it seriously. I couldn't bear that."

How many mothers could say "autopsy" without breaking down? On the other hand, she'd had eight years to acclimatize to the word. I had to admire her drive, still searching for justice.

But it wasn't my place. The fact that I reminded her of Laura made it even more unprofessional. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Lee. I do know one or two people at the police department. They might be able to help you with...justice." The word tasted foreign in my mouth. I hurried on. "In the emergency room, we deal with medical problems. You seem quite stable. Are you feeling more depressed than usual lately?"

She shook her head. "I feel much better now that I've met you."

I closed my eyes. I couldn't save this woman. I could hardly save myself.

"Please, Dr. Sze. Just have a look at her file. That's all I'm asking."

I had to say no. I took a breath.

One of the things I never liked about psych was, when you interview a patient, you're not really an ally. You're mentally critiquing what they say and how they say it while trying to categorize them. It sounds harsh, but a gazillion people came to the ER and said, "I'm depressed." Very few of them were truly suicidal. Some of them were trying to manipulate you. Some of them just wanted attention. Of course, this happened in emergency medicine too, which was what I planned to specialize in, but I generally wanted to be on the patient's side instead of inspecting them from behind glass.

This time, though, I needed to keep her behind glass.

I knew what my supervisors would say. I knew what I should say. I forced the sentences into the air, creating a barrier between us. "Mrs. Lee, please, let's concentrate on you. Have you thought about hurting yourself?"

She sighed. "No, I am not suicidal. Naturally, after Laura was killed, I had days of despair, but I never attempted to kill myself. I have never tried to hurt anyone else. I am not hallucinating. I do not have a special relationship with God or Satan. I do not drink or take any drugs except an occasional Ativan to help me sleep, and even then, I only take half a milligram. I know I am at St. Joseph's Hospital in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and that it is the eighth of August."

I stared at her, wide-eyed. She'd just encapsulated a psych interview better than I could have done.

She smiled. "It's just practice, Dr. Sze. I've had many, many of these interviews. I could go on if you like. But I am not crazy. I am not going to hurt you or anyone else, including myself. I already have a doctor and I'm not asking for any special treatment. All I am asking is for you to read my file on Laura. You don't even have to meet with me. I could leave a copy in your mailbox."

"Mrs. Lee ... "

I should say no. I should concentrate on medicine. Or even on Tucker.

Curiosity killed the cat.

Counteraction brought her back.

I looked into her steady brown eyes and said, "All right."