Brain Storm by Elaine Viets is a medical and forensics thriller with a twist. Angela Richman is a Death Investigator and the person who is called in when a death occurs, one of the first there to view the scene and decipher all the clues. Her expertise makes her one of the top in her field and she is relied on to help find the truth.
When she is called in to work on a car crash that kills a teenager, she is just getting into the investigation and suddenly her own life takes a strange turn. In the middle of her investigation she suffers a bizarre series of strokes and as she is rushed to the hospital where she is initially misdiagnosed, putting her life and career at risk.
Dr. Gravois is the resident neurologist who fist attends her, with his diagnosis causing further possible damage. When she is finally attended by another neurosurgeon, Dr. Jeb Travis Tritt, she is finally diagnosed correctly, but faces a long and painful recovery. The drugs she takes are strong and hinder much of her thinking, but finally there is at least the possibility of recovery.
Yet while she is under the influence of many lifesaving drugs, she is also addled and hallucinating, making her question everything she sees and hears. When Dr. Gravois is murdered, she finds out the chief suspect is the surgeon who saved her life. While she can’t be sure, she just does not believe that he would kill anyone. But no one is standing up for him. Dr Tritt is not a person who generates friends or closeness, and he had many serious disagreements with Dr. Gravois in the past about his work.
Richman feels like she may be his only hope, but her brain trauma makes her question her own instincts and she is not sure she will ever recover her investigative skills. However, she knows she must take a chance. She may be the only one who can find the truth and save Dr. Tritt from death-row.
Yet even as she looks for clues, there are those who make everything she thinks and says suspect. They question her thoughts and feelings, creating doubt even in those that know her the best. Does her mind still have the ability to find the answers to what really happened? She must find a way to trust herself and fine tune her arsenal of knowledge before it is too late. Can she get her own team to back her, and get her bosses to buy into her investigation, when they too worry about her mental status?
Viets has brought us a protagonist who goes from the top of her game, to a darkness all her own. She is unwilling to allow her own problems to stand in the way of justice. While she may never be back to who she was before the strokes, she is willing to put it all on the line to help the person who helped her. Her flaws and strength make her very human, and her belief in justice at all costs makes her a strong fighter and someone you want very much to believe in.
If you enjoy crime drama, forensics, and even medical drama this work holds just enough of each to keep you riveted. Angela Richman is a great character, one we may be looking forward to in future editions.
This would be a great work for a book club, creating a great deal of discussion.