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David E. Feldman
Author
A Sickening Storm

Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Market)

A deeply troubling sequence of events is unfolding at the Beach City Medical Center, as people are growing unaccountably, deathly, grotesquely, painfully ill, and eventually dying. First one. Then two. Then a handful. Now a dozen. And the doctors are baffled as to the cause, diagnosis, or treatment. The hospital CEO has hired Dora Ellison and her sidekick and intriguing love interest, librarian Missy Winters to investigate and keep the hospital from having to close its doors. But what the pair of investigators uncover is worse than even their client could have dreamed—serial murders using the world's deadliest diseases as the murder weapon. How many more innocent people have to die before Dora and Missy bring the killer to justice? And what will become of Beach City Medical Center, the barrier island's only hospital?
Reviews
Feldman’s intriguing third Dora Ellison mystery (after A Gathering Storm) unites investigators seeking to uncover the connection between multiple hospital deaths caused by rare illnesses. Police academy dropout Dora and her girlfriend Missy Winters are hired by private investigator Adam Geller to find answers for the CEO of Beach City Medical Center about three unexplained hospital deaths: from rabies, a rare form of encephalitis and a brain-eating amoeba. Though the odds are slim that these illnesses could have occurred at a single hospital located on an island near Long Island, Dora and Missy explore the possibility that someone deliberately infected the patients, especially when the body count rises, leading them on a race against time to find a potential killer.

A welcome sense of realism sets this series apart, with Feldman proving adept at capturing how corruption works within systems. This third novel especially engages with its era, as Dora and company must face not only a killer but COVID-19 and the protocols to prevent its spread. Dora might need her mask for more than just the real-world pandemic: Feldman’s convincing depictions of the various rare illnesses that drive the plot, and the frightening possibility of an unknown person roaming the hospital to spread deadly illness, plays on contemporary anxieties, giving scenes a sharp edge of suspense.

Interspersed with the storyline of the increasing number of unexplained illnesses and death is the simmering undercurrent of union organizing at the hospital. This thread leads readers to question whether someone angry about the arduous process of unionizing could be retaliating by murdering patients to negatively affect the hospital’s reputation, forcing it to cancel its upcoming gala and the donations received there. But the overarching impact of the narrative brimming with realism is that readers will be left questioning whether this fictional evil could become tomorrow’s headlines.

Takeaway: Budding P.I.s search for a killer spreading illnesses in a hospital in this of-the-moment thriller.

Great for fans of: Robin Cook, Michael Angel’s The Devil’s Noose.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

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