by Elaine Viets
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I haven’t read Elaine Viets before, but have heard about her, so was excited when Brain Storm (Thomas & Mercer 2016) showed up on NetGalley. In Brain Storm, the first in Viets’Angela Richman Death Investigator series, Angela struggles to tamp down a horrible headache as she investigates a car crash that leaves a beautiful teenager dead, the passenger severely wounded, and the two drunk and stoned teens who were racing with their high school friends reeling from what happened to their friend and the legal liability they face. Angela is able to sleep away her headache, but it comes back much worse, despite what is probably too much Imitrex. When that headache becomes a series of deadly strokes and a two-week-long drug-induced coma, we follow her through her near death and halting recovery in a hospital where an angel of death hunts his next victims. While Angela makes a stuttering recovery, her friend the ME helps to chase down the Angel of Death. As if that’s not enough murder, the doctor who saves Angela’s life with a surgery that colleagues called impossible is blamed for the murder of another prominent doctor. Partly out of appreciation that this talented enigmatic doctor saved her life and a bigger part because she believed he was innocent, Angela becomes wrapped into the effort to clear his name, despite being addled by the drugs required to help her recover.
Elaine Viets is a good storyteller, as you’d expect from her popularity. Opening the novel with, “The doctor who nearly killed Angela Richman was buried today” is guaranteed to get anyone who can read to keep at it. And it never slowed down. The story is told with an upbeat voice, despite the seriousness of the content and the boorishness of Angela’s fellow police:
“That’s why undertakers screw coffin lids shut,” Greiman said. “Only way to keep EMS from resuscitating the stiffs.”
What seemed like a typical death investigation–how did a teenager die and another one end up egregiously injured–turns into a foray into Angela’s brain surgery and recovery that includes the backstory on the hospital staff, the real and imagined friends who visit Angela while she’s under the influence of the powerful drugs required to help her survive, and the setbacks she experiences as she tries to return to the job she loves.
This book is highly recommended. It is a fun read that will leave you more knowledgeable about brain surgery than when you started.
More mystery thrillers:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy and To Hunt a Sub, her debut fiction. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member forJournal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her nonfiction books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.