Written by JA Schneider — Maybe the title of this book seems a little off-putting. Somehow, in my mind’s eye, it conjured up a mutant alien life form wreaking havoc in some place or other. How wrong can one reviewer be?
As the number suggest, Silver Girl is the fifth in the Embryo series, featuring doctors-turned-detectives Jill Raney and David Levine. This pair may be living in the here and now but they’d fit right in to the world of Agatha Christie – a 21st century Tommy and Tuppence, if you will. They are resourceful, nosey, and fond of living outside of the rules. In short, they’re perfect crime thriller material.
When beautiful young TV star Jody Merrill dies mysteriously, New York police are stumped. Jody was allergic to penicillin and let everyone she met know about it. So how is it that her death came as a result of a major overdose of penicillin, causing catastrophic anaphylactic shock? They are even more at a loss when the remains of yet another actress, Jody’s co-star, are found nearby. Celie Jarrett’s body had suffered multiple stab wounds before being dumped in the trash. Jody and Celie had everything to live for – who on Earth could have wanted them dead?
The question is particularly pertinent for Jill and David as Jody was a close friend of theirs. Sure, she’d had her problems in the past but the young actress had put all that behind her. Her career was on the up and up and she was happier than they had ever seen her. Jody’s death affects them badly and they are determined to bring the perpetrator to justice. The only trouble is that these would-be detectives have full-time and full-on medical careers, not to mention a demanding toddler.
Both Jill and David work in obstetrics and gynaecology and seem to be on call 24/7. Obviously, their investigations must take second place when there’s a woman admitted with labour complications or they are called to the bedside of a traumatised rape victim but miraculously, they seem to be able to function as both medics and private eyes on scant hours of sleep.
And then there’s the aforementioned child. Their son, Jesse, is the Embryo of the title – and now a precocious 18-month-old who seems to spend most of his life in the doting care of staff at the hospital’s daycare centre. There’s a touching, if somewhat disturbing scene where several of the medical team members and their assorted offspring enjoy a ‘picnic’ there. Do these kids ever see daylight? No wonder Jesse appears to be an odd little boy – he seems to be experiencing a very odd upbringing.
So there are flaws with this tale, mostly revolving around the plotting logistics of a pair of overworked doctors who can still rise to the challenge of helping the police to solve a double murder investigation, but if you can set those misgivings aside, Silver Girl is a most enjoyable read.
Joyce Anne Schneider is a former staff writer at Newsweek who, in addition to the self-published Embryo ebook series, has published Flora Tristan and Darkness Falls via traditional publishers. Her view of life as a medic is drawn from inside knowledge – she has been married for decades to a very patient physician who enjoys explaining medical concepts and retelling his experiences. She is planning more in the Embryo series – and if you like your crime finely drawn and not too dark, then they could be right up your street.
We reviewed the first Embryo book here. If you enjoy a bit of medicine and forensics in your crime fiction click here.
CFL Rating: 3 Stars