THE “SHRINK WITH INK” REFLECTS A STYLE LONG LOST BY CORNWELL

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Fifth reflectn cvrCrime is no respecter of borders, time or place. So, when I started reading this month’s book and found it was set in a police department in Silicon Valley, I was a little surprised as that was the last place I assumed would have need for law enforcement. I have this rather rose-tinted view that Silicon Valley is a lush green place just outside San Francisco that is a myriad of weird space age glass office blocks, inhabited by leading dot com companies. Where everyone drives a mix of sports cars and Hybrids, wears chinos or jeans alongside retro labelled t-shirts and there are Starbucks and  up market deli’s falling over themselves to serve every conceivable trendy hot and cold drink or food.

Okay, so white collar crime is a serious matter, but what also intrigued me was that the lead character’s profession was one I’d never seen investigate crime before, a police psychologist. This month’s book is The Fifth Reflection by Ellen Kirschman. Published by Oceanview publishing (www.oceanviewpub.com) in July.

Dr. Dot Meyerhoff, is enjoying thanksgiving break in the warm bosom of her partner Frank’s large Iowa family, when the daughter of Frank’s night class photography tutor goes missing.  The two of them head back West, Frank to comfort his friend and tutor and Dot to see what she can do to assist the police. A couple of days later the girl’s body is found in a dumpster; the missing child investigation is ramped up to a murder. This isn’t a straight forward disappearance as the girl’s mother regularly used her as subject in very risqué pictures in which her daughter was nude. On top of that the little girl is the by-product of a one-night stand and her father and step mum are well to do socialites. Dot is caught in a bit of a bind as she is slightly compromised in that she knows the girl’s mum through Frank and works for the local PD. Also as the investigation progresses Dot starts to get concerned for the mental state of the officer leading the investigation, but despite all her protestations, her chief of police, who she just about gets on with, will have none it and shows little or scant concern for the young detective’s welfare.

This book drew me in from start and reminded me why I started reading Patricia Cornwell all those years ago, before she let success get to her head and started messing silicon-valley-signwith her writing style and lost this reviewer, as an ardent fan, to Kathy Riechs. Okay, the subtle difference between the characters is merely their jobs, Scarpetta and Brennan are medical examiners and a forensic pathologist, who deal with the bodies and bones while Meyerhoff deals with the mind, more specifically the minds of the those fighting crime.

When Cornwell first started writing about Scarpetta, her books and descriptions were earthy, homegrown and got down and dirty with the heroine, while also giving acres of substance to her background. Here Kirschman does the same thing, as a result Dot comes across as homely and a very likeable character.

As for the writing and the story, it has the single biggest hook in crime fiction as well as real life. A missing child stops everything, things are never really the same after it happens. From the moment you realise the victim is a young child, you are immediately hooked and nothing is going to stop you from getting back to this book.

Kircschman explores the void left in the wake of such a heinous crime, while also focusing on the ever- complicated world of internet crimes against children as well as the stresses placed upon those officers, their families and colleagues, who must track down the evil monsters who stalk our youngsters over a vast and easily accessible world wide web. All in a way only a skilled professional like she is could do.

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Ellen Kirschman

American author Dr. Ellen Kirschman’s website describes her as a “Shrink with ink”, she’s been a police psychologist for over thirty years and in that time, she has written both fiction and nonfiction. This is her third Dr. Dot Meyerhoff book, the other two are Burying Ben (2013) and Right The Wrong Thing (2015). She’s also written a number self-help books for those working with law enforcement or married to members of the emergency services, these include Counselling Cops, I love A Cop and I love a Firefighter. She currently lives in Redwood City California with her family.

So, if you want more from your heroines than being up to their elbows in blood and cadavers and you are looking for an original female crime fighter with their head screwed on, who can bring a new and unique insight into modern day police procedure, while also delivering a cracking story, then pick up a copy at your local book shop or download it.

REICHS MAKES NO BONES ABOUT HER PLACE AT THE TOP

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Bones to Ashes cvrThey say “you should never mix business with pleasure”. This doesn’t seem to have been a problem for Kathy Reichs. By day she’s a respected Forensic Anthropologist in both North Carolina and Quebec and by night she’s the best selling author of nine books featuring her heroine Temperance Brennan. Not forgetting, also being the executive producer of the highly acclaimed TV series “Bones”. God where does she find time to work 9-5 let alone get eight hours sleep!!!

Her latest book is Bones to Ashes. It’s begins with Tempe relating the sudden disappearance of Evangeline Landry when they were both kids, growing up in North Carolina. Evangeline originally came from Tracadie in New Brunswick, Canada. Push forward to the present where Tempe is a forensic Anthropologist for the Coroner in Quebec, when the body of a fourteen-year-old girl, who appears to have been dead for a number of years is reluctantly handed over to her by the coroner in Tracadie. Is this her long lost childhood friend? Or are they ancient burial bones as the coroner is so eager to write them off as. On top of that, her erratic love life takes a sudden downward spiral when her long-term boyfriend, Detective Andrew Ryan decides to dump her. But still requests her help on a number of missing children cases (finally a character I can relate to in the romance stakes). Reeling from the train wreck of her relationship, her sister Harriet flies in with moral support and they both re-enact a similar search for Evangeline they embarked on all those years ago as kids. But this time the consequences and what they discover will threaten both their lives and Tempe’s professional one.

The book is pacey and well researched, the dialogue between the central characters lively and Tempe’s own inner thoughts are witty, coming straight from the hip. As with the previous books there is a healthy smattering of French all the way through, which adds a nice dimension and really brings the Québec inhabitants to life. Thus putting the series above the norm for this style of Thriller.

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Writers are told to write about what they know and this is where Reichs has succeeded. It’s amazing to think that a little under ten years ago, the undisputed queen of slicem-and-dicem’s was Patricia Cornwell. That was until Kathy came on the scene. She hasn’t just left Cornwell behind, but signed her toe tag too. It shows in her cutting-edge medical knowledge and scapel sharp attention to detail. That this is written by a professional not the local coroners IT administrator.

I definitely recommend this book, but be warned have a bowl of Prof. Marie Cassidyoranges or a bottle of high strength vitamin pills nearby. The workload of both these women factually and fictionally will have you feeling run down after the first couple of pages. Me I’ll watch the boxette of “Bones” season two, while awaiting Prof. Marie Cassidy (Irish State Pathologist) to step up to the plate..

(first published in http://www.murphysview.blogspot.com  in 2009)