Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The coroner's teenage assistant

Seventeen-year-old Cameryn Mahoney lives with her father and grandmother in a very small town in the Colorado mountains. Her ambition, to the dismay of her traditional Irish grandmother (who'd much rather she learn to cook), is to become a forensic pathologist. This is no vague dream to her - she dedicates her time to reading and research, and has amassed a fair amount of theoretical knowledge. But she wants more.

Her father, annoyed that the sheriff has a new deputy to help him out, while he remains on his own and overworked, agrees to take Cameryn on as his assistant. Cameryn's first experience with him - going to a hotel room to recover the body of a "floater," a man who's been dead in a bathtub in a hotel room for days - leaves her shaken but determined to do her job.

Justin, the sheriff's new deputy is also there on the scene. He is handsome and friendly, but for some reason her father distrusts him, and Cameryn tries to maintain her distance. But when a murder - the first murder in their tiny town in years - happens, she and Justin find themselves working together. Cameryn's world-view takes a sudden shift when she discovers the murder victim is a friend of hers, and that a psychic predicted the discovery and location of the body. Cameryn is a rock-solid, feet-on-the-ground, hard-scientific-evidence-required kind of girl, and she is taken aback when the psychic reveals astonishing facts about the case. The medical examiner would be a good ally to have, but he is furious about Cameryn's involvement in the investigation, and dismisses her thoughts and ideas, even when it seems they have validity. So she decides to take matters into her own hands...

This book is definitely not for the squeamish, as it relates very graphic details about decomposing bodies and autopsy methods, but for those who enjoy gritty mysteries with forensic clues, it is a winner. The characters are engaging and believable, and their relationships, combined with the strands of the mystery, had me hooked from the beginning. I always love discovering an enjoyable new series - especially when there several books already published. This one is the first of three, so far. I would recommend this book to older teens with the caveat about the graphic details, and to anyone who enjoys a solid forensic mystery.

Books in the Forensic Mystery series:
1. The Christopher Killer
2. The Angel of Death
3. The Circle of Blood
4. The Dying Breath

The Christopher Killer (#1 in the Forensic Mystery series) by Alane Ferguson (Viking, 2006)

Also reviewed at:
Book of the Week


  1. Sounds like a kind of morbid job. I know I couldn't do it! Interesting story, not sure if I could read it or not but I certainly love TV shows like this (and the coroner is always one of my favorite characters).

  2. I'll definitely have to look this one up. I'm always looking for new forensic mysteries! Thanks.

  3. Oooh! Another one for the wishlist. (eek!)

  4. Ladytink - it was definitely unsettling, but I enjoyed the characters so much, and the mystery was very gripping. It took me out of my comfort zone, but I'm glad I read it!

    Nicola - if you like forensic stuff, I think you'll enjoy this. I'll be curious to hear what you think!

    Heather - gotcha! :-) (Payback is only fair)

  5. Oh, oh, oh...I must get my hands on this one!

  6. I'll be looking forward to hearing what you think when you read it!

  7. that's so weird. i had a dream last night about finding someone dead in a bathtub.
    this sounds like it might be interesting: i think the details of decomposition would be cool!

  8. The details may be more than you actually want to know, but they are very interesting!


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