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The ultrawealthy families of Chouteau Forest may look down on a woman like death investigator Angela Richman, but they also rely on her. When a horrific car crash kills a Forest teenager, Angela is among the first on the scene. Her investigation is hardly underway, however, when she suffers a series of crippling strokes. Misdiagnosed by the resident neurologist, Dr. Gravois, and mended by gauche yet brilliant neurosurgeon Dr. Jeb Travis Tritt, Angela faces a harrowing recovery.

It's a drug-addled, hallucinating Angela who learns that Dr. Gravois has been murdered ... and the chief suspect is the surgeon who saved her life. Angela doesn't believe it, but can she trust her instincts? Her brain trauma brings doubts that she'll ever recover her investigative skills. But she's determined to save Dr. Tritt from a death-row sentence - even if her progress is thwarted at every turn by a powerful and insular community poised to protect its own.



About the Author

Elaine Viets

How do you like your mysteries? Hardboiled, with a blood chaser? Warm and cozy? Or funny and traditional, with all the clues, and some good laughs? My four mystery series have something for every reader.

I started dark with the Francesca Vierling mysteries, set at a newspaper. My Dead-End Job mysteries are funny and traditional. The Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper mysteries are sweetly cozy.

Now I'm going back to the dark side, with a new series featuring Death Investigator Angela Richman. Death investigators work for the medical examiner. They take charge of the body, photographing it, documenting the wounds, and more. The police investigate the rest of the crime scene. Angela lives in mythical Chouteau County, just west of St. Louis. The rich live in the town of Chouteau Forest, a bastion of old money. The workers live in Toonerville. But death doesn?t discriminate between the rich and the poor. Angela works cases for the super-wealthy as well as the poor. She believes the dead can talk, and it?s her job to examine, photograph and document their bodies, so they can tell her when and how they died. The Angela Richman series is dark, but it's not as gruesome as Patricia Cornwell?s novels. It's closer to Kathy Reichs's Tempe Brennan mysteries.

Why return to this gritty world?

Because I like variety, and know you do, too. My first mystery series featured Francesca Vierling, a six-foot-tall St. Louis newspaper columnist. I wrote four hardboiled Francesca mysteries.

Tough, glamorous Francesca drives an '86 Jaguar. She investigates the murder of a transvestite in "Backstab" and the death of a RUB, a rich urban biker, in "Rubout." In "The Pink Flamingo Murders," Francesca looks into a murder that would horrify anyone fighting to improve a rundown city neighborhood: a ruthless gentrifier is stabbed with a pink plastic flamingo. Got her right in the heart with the bird's metal legs. In "Doc in the Box," bad doctors get the deaths they deserve.

The Francesca series ended after four books, but readers still enjoy it. This May, a New Yorker with lymphoma told me she gave Doc in the Box to her oncologist as a gift - or a warning.
After the hardboiled Francesca series, I worked dead-end jobs until my agent sold "Shop Till You Drop," my first Dead-End Job mystery. This series features Helen Hawthorne, a St. Louis woman on the run in South Florida. Now I was back writing traditional mysteries, cheerfully slaughtering bad bosses and annoying customers.

Helen works a different low-paying job each novel, and I've worked most of them. In "Shop Till You Drop," Helen sells bustiers to bimbos. "Murder Between the Covers," set at a bookstore, is one of my favorite jobs. Helen and I worked as telemarketers for "Dying to Call You." That was my worst job ever - I



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