Deadly Choices by Jennie Spallone
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I enjoy most of the crime investigation shows -- the CSI's (especially New York, although hearing David Caruso's witty one-liners keeps the other characters in the Miami version from making me through rocks at the television) and Law & Order (SVU when Munch is there, or Criminal Intent). The story arcs get fairly predictable as far as timing -- although the most predictable is on House, where you can count on the furrowed eyes and the epiphany at :48 past the hour -- and although you know when the twists are coming, you don't know what they will be.
Jennie Spallone's "Deadly Choices" was quite a bit like reading one of these shows. Beth Reilly, a medical librarian-turned-paramedic trainee, is in the ambulance with her partner, Angie, who developed a nasty coke habit in Vietnam but has successfully managed to cover it up and earn some medals for bravery as a paramedic. Angie snorts once too many times, though, and ends up running over a pregnant, homeless girl. Because she doesn't want to risk the damage of reporting an accident that happened while she was driving high, she wants to flee the scene.
Beth notices that the woman is about to give birth, though, and so she delivers the baby while Angie fumes in the ambulance. They take the baby with them, and Beth convinces her friend, Sue, to hide the baby amongst her other seven foster children. Sue agrees, even though all of us know that she shouldn't, because she could lose her foster parent license and send all seven of the others to terrible homes.
Beth's fire captain is the uber-prototypical sexist firehouse lug who hates having one woman in his house -- let alone two. If throwing used sanitary napkins at the women in his house doesn't make him evil enough, he has a stock of illegal porn in his desk and has a habit of snooping through his people's lockers. He finds Angie's diary, where she happened to record the accident, and uses it in a blackmail attempt on Beth. Fortunately for Beth, though, he dies after trying to attack her at her home, during this attempt.
The twists and turns of this book are surprisingly bracing. At times, it veers from "CSI" quality down the road of such shows as "Rizzoli & Isles," in which shadowy clues become ironclad evidence in a matter of seconds, and the character development relies more on stereotype rather than the detail that would make characters like Sue and Reverend Luke intriguing, rather than confusing.
On the whole, though, I enjoyed the brisk read, and it is a story that will definitely make you think about the choices that people make when they think they don't have any choices at all.
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