A body comes back to life on the autopsy table, igniting a string of events that includes murder, in the fourth novel featuring pathologist Toni Day.
It’s been one of those days for Day. She sees a car go into a canal and almost drowns herself trying to save the driver, a woman named Beulah, whom she actually knows. Later, just as Day is about to begin Beulah’s autopsy, she realizes that the woman is still alive. As she digs deeper into Beulah’s past, her investigation uncovers some apparent embezzlement occurring at the local canal company and the decades-old death of a young boy. She knows she’s getting uncomfortably close to pay dirt when she starts getting threats to back off. Will she find the truth before the threats turn deadly? Munro’s (Grievous Bodily Harm, 2013, etc.) novel takes the reader deep into the world of pathology, made popular by television shows like NCIS. The title comes from what has to be a pathologist’s worst nightmare—beginning an autopsy on a person who is still alive. Day is worried that she might have caused Beulah’s death because she inserted a needle into the heart cavity to draw some fluid out just before realizing that Beulah was still alive on the operating table. A pathologist herself for nearly four decades, Munro knows her way around an autopsy, and the book rings with authenticity yet doesn’t bury the reader in a blizzard of insider facts and tidbits. Day is no supersleuth but a typical working person doing a job that she’s good at, then letting her curiosity take control. A strong cast of supporting characters surrounds her, including a somewhat befuddled husband, her extended family and two dogs that act as living burglar alarms. The book is paced well, and every time the story flags, Munro tosses in action or an ominous sequence that reinvigorates the story and refocuses the reader. Readers may know in their heart of hearts that Day is too competent to cause a death, but this lively whodunit will keep them guessing until the end.
A solid mystery far from DOA.