Top critical review
Modern medical thriller
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on September 15, 2020
A Desperate Place is the first book in a new modern mystery series by Jennifer Greer. Released 11th Aug 2020 by Crooked Lane Books, it's 311 pages (print version) and available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. t's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.
This is a modern murder mystery set in the Pacific northwest with an investigative duo of journalist and police detective with the medical examiner's office. They collaborate while investigating a string of local murders staged to look like accidents. The common thread between the victims is the basis for this medical thriller/mystery.
The writing is competent but the pacing was glacial for much of the book. Probably 20% of the book was flashback descriptions of McKenna's traumatic experiences as an investigative journalist in Afghanistan. She is also preternaturally lucky in her present day assignment, since she gets instant access and full honest disclosure from almost everyone she interviews (starting with 2 young boys who were important eyewitnesses and tell her everything immediately). The medical parts of the story made me roll my eyes on numerous occasions. (Trust me, medical professionals are too busy to give the Dr. Mengele-worthy performance of the head psycho-bad-guy in this book). The denouement was way over the top and felt tacked on rather than a natural progression of the story arc.
Negatives aside, this is a fairly well written medical murder mystery. Fans of crime fiction who like strong female characters will find a lot to like here. This is a strong series start from a debut writer, and judged on that basis, is worth a look. Three stars.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.