The doctor who nearly killed Angela Richman was buried today, and the Missouri medical establishment turned out to honor him.
Once of my favorite opening sentences ever. Brain Storm, published just last year, was the first in Viet's death investigator series.
A death investigator looks into any death that falls under the jurisdiction of the medical examiner or coroner, including all suspicious, violent, unexplained and unexpected deaths. The death investigator is responsible for the dead person, while law enforcement is responsible for the scene. It's a strange job: there aren't clear-cut training requirements (what's expected of job applicants varies by state and even county), but the death investigator is required to have a wide breadth of medical and legal knowledge.
Viets has taken the Medicolegal Death Investigators Training Course for forensic professionals, given by St. Louis University's School of Medicine. She's originally from Saint Louis, which is where the Angela Richman death investigator series are set. Brain Storm puts her insider knowledge to good use, as the murders Richman investigates highlight the contrast in rights, privileges, and respect allotted to Chouteau Forest long-standing aristocracy and the newly arriveds and working class (Richman hails from the latter).
Richman's investigations focus on two deaths, one, the murder of the doctor, a man well-connected with the town's elite, who mis-diagnosed her own life-threatening strokes. The other the death of a teenager in a car accident where alcohol, drugs, and texting were involved. Angela also helps her friend Katie investigate a series of "Angel of Death" killings in the hospital.
This first book is Angela Richman's 'creation story' — the story that shows us how she became the death investigator we will follow throughout the series. It's written in a non-linear way, and Angela herself is an unreliable narrator, because of her strokes; she can never really be sure if something she remembers is a hallucination or not.
The second book, FIRE AND ASHES, puts us in different territory. Richman has recovered and is back to work. There's an arsonist lighting fires all over town. And the town's richest financier, a man became wealthy off the backs of the working poor, has been murdered. Accusing fingers all over town point at his foreign trophy-fiancee, but Richman isn't so sure.
The book can be read as a stand-alone, but if you want to start from the beginning, Brainstorm is now available for ninety-nine cents on Kindle.
About Elaine Viets
Elaine Viets has written twenty-nine mysteries in three series: the bestselling Dead-End Job series with South Florida PI Helen Hawthorne, the cozy Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper mysteries, and the dark Francesca Vierling mysteries. With the Angela Richman Death Investigator series, Elaine returns to her hardboiled roots and uses her experience as a stroke survivor and her studies at the Medicolegal Death Investigators Training Course at St. Louis University. Elaine is director at large for the Mystery Writers of America. She's a frequent contributor to Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and anthologies edited by Charlaine Harris and Lawrence Block. Elaine won the Anthony, Agatha and Lefty Awards.