Boy am I jazzed. Beyond jazzed. Both Murder Under the Microscope and Too Much Blood got RECOMMENDED ratings from the US Review of Books. They’re both listed in the June issue of the USR newsletter. Here they are.
Any authentic work must start an argument between the artist and his audience. -Rebecca West
Murder Under the Microscope by Jane Bennett Munro iUniverse
reviewed by Carol Davala
“‘Nobody is above suspicion in the eyes of the law,’ Elliot said pompously. ‘Sometimes it’s the last freakin’ person you’d suspect.'”
Jane Bennett Munro has taken her 30-plus years experience as a hospital pathologist and her love of mystery novels, and intertwined them into an exciting new career. The result is an engaging whodunit that revolves around Toni Day Shapiro, a smart, inquisitive, and determined pathologist working in the fictional Perrine Memorial Hospital in Twin Falls, Idaho. From the story’s opening line, “There was a dead body in my office. It wasn’t mine, and I didn’t put it there,” Munro’s first person approach and hint of humor draw readers directly into the mystery of Toni’s being framed for the murder of a visiting physician.
Each chapter brings a new dimension to the plot, ultimately to include a stalking ex-boyfriend, a stolen identity, a hit-n-run, kidnapping, rape, bigamy, embezzlement, and suicide. Simultaneously, Munro opens chapters with great little quotes that smartly set the tone for ensuing action. From Shakespeare to Agatha Christie’s “Every murderer is probably somebody’s old friend,” the words ring true. Characters are prevalent, from hospital staff to lawyers and detectives. Toni’s English “Mum,” with a penchant for making lists, pleasantly helps Toni and readers alike put all the facts in perspective.
Munro clearly draws upon her personal pathology expertise to finely detail hospital and lab activities and settings. While the crimes within the storyline are often dangerous and/or deadly, the author stylistically refrains from gratuitous explanations of violence, beyond their necessity to the investigation. In true mystery style, the writer keeps us guessing. Munro’s book is well-crafted with steady pacing that keeps readers turning pages, analyzing suspects, and looking for answers, right along with Toni. Murder Under the Microscope is an exemplary first novel. Here the author presents a likeable main character and the necessary quality elements that draw readers to mystery and make it such an enjoyable literary genre.
RECOMMENDED by the USR
Too Much Blood by Jane Bennett Munro iUniverse
reviewed by Barbara Deming
“You’ll never guess what just happened?”
Jay Braithwaite Burke, sleazy, ponzi-scammer attorney is on forensic pathologist Toni Day’s autopsy table. He had bilked people out of thousands of dollars, and, when the scheme collapsed, he disappeared. Where has he been? Why did he return to the scene of his crimes only to wind up dead?
The autopsy and lab work shows Burke died of a brain hemorrhage. His local doctor had treated him for a heart problem. Was he given the wrong drug which caused excessive bleeding? Or did someone give him an overdose? The lack of concrete reasons for accidental or natural cause of death warrants Toni’s conclusion that this is a case of homicide. Complications with the case are almost as worrisome as the verbal skirmishes with her husband, and the anger/fear over her suspicions that Hal is having an affair. But when disaster strikes in mega doses, she temporarily puts her personal angst aside and hits the investigative trail.
People connected to him and his scheme are Toni’s co-workers. Several homes burn to the ground. Some family members fall ill. It appears Burke has two wills; the first one leaves money to women he had affairs with. But he claimed to be broke, didn’t he? And then a mysterious bleeding illness attacks those people involved with the disgraced attorney. Police cry, “Murder!” As Toni would say, “Christ on a crutch, what is going on here?” Author Munro, a semi-retired pathologist, has written a can’t-put-down tale of murder and poisoning seen through the eyes of a pathologist bent on solving crimes. Munro’s writing is entertaining, believable, and fast-paced. She takes you into the autopsy room, shows the fragility of the characters, and makes the reader feel they are inside the story. Readers will definitely be looking forward to solving more cases with this character.
RECOMMENDED by the USR