Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dead Air: A Sammy Greene Thriller by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid

Reviewed for Review the Book
Publisher:  Oceanview Publishing

A rash of student suicides has hit the campus of Ellsford University! What can be the cause? Sammy Greene is determined to get to the bottom of things as a reporter and talk-show host for W.E.L.L., the campus radio station. She is tough, dedicated, and prone to exclamations in Yiddish, a result of being raised by her traditional grandmother. She plans a Memorial show for the most recent, a young man with a great future ahead, a talented musician and composer, and homosexual.

Interviews with professors, students, and friends trigger some questions as to whether these suicides are what they seem.  A fanatical religious group, with an overly zealous leader preaching, anti-gay, anti-abortion, and anti-corporate funding of research, she begins to investigate the group as possibly responsible for the "suicides".

Having left her purse at the home of her biology professor during an interview, she returns the next morning to retrieve it, and the tape from her interview. When she arrives, Sammy discovers Professor Conrad is dead from a self-inflicted bullet. Another seemingly unrelated suicide? But why then did his mentor commit suicide in the same manner with the same gun 3 years before?  Retrieving her purse, she realizes that it was running until it ran out, and possibly there will be some evidence on it.

Thus begins Sammy's thrill-ride as she battles against all comers including the police chief, her boyfriend, the Dean, other professors, and the Reverend Taft. No one will listen to her, and all warn her to leave it alone, they are satisfied with the suicide theory. Even Professor Conrad had tried to warn her off.  If he was going to commit suicide, why the warning?

This story is fast-paced, factual in many ways, researched thoroughly by the authors who are well-versed in their subject.  The suspense is high and the action continuous with little snippets of humor to ease the tension. Suspicions take sidetracks throwing Sammy and Campus Police Chief Pappajohn off course several times. Danger lurks everywhere. She is not even sure she trusts Pappajohn.  Now, two students are missing. What is the connection?

A strong story and very current, the dangers in the world of today as we lose control of who owns what in business, what conglomerate is supporting life-saving research, this is a medical thriller that satisfies. When Sammy's missing tape is located after a suspicious fire destroys the radio station, answers start flowing thick and fast and in several directions. Everyone seems to suspect the wrong person(s). The race heats up all through the book, to a heart-stopping climax.

Both authors have written thrillers before. Both are in the field of health care and research.  This is the first collaborative story by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid, and the first introduction of Sammy Greene, which appears to me to be the beginning of a series. If so, I will be watching for the next episode!

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