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Murder under the Microscope
Jane Bennett Munro
Reviewed by Kam Aures for Rebecca’s Reads (03/12)
"There was a dead body in my office.
It wasn’t mine, and I didn’t put it there.
I found it when I got called in for a frozen section at the ungodly hour of five o’clock in the morning.
Hurrying into the office, I tripped and damn near brained myself on the corner of my desk. The desk lamp fell over on me. That, plus my hangover, nearly did me in.
I picked up the lamp and switched it on.
On the floor lay the body of a woman in tight white pants and a red tank top. Long, black hair fell over her face, obscuring it, but there was no doubt in my mind who it was. My first instinct was to run right back home and crawl under the covers." (p.1)
These are the words of Dr. Toni Day, a pathologist at Perrine Memorial Hospital in Twin Falls, Idaho. A month prior to the incident above, a new doctor had been brought in to fill in for another physician who was out for medical reasons. This doctor, Dr. Sally Shore, has other plans besides simply doing her job. She has it out for Toni and tries to ruin her reputation. Little did Toni know what was about to lie ahead of her.
Written in a short paragraph and short chapter style, "Murder under the Microscope" is a very fast-paced read that will hold your attention. I found the main characters to be quite intriguing. I really enjoy medical mysteries, and "Murder under the Microscope" was no exception. The author, Jane Bennett Munro, M.D., like the main character Toni, is a pathologist. This fact lends quite a bit of credibility to the novel and I enjoyed the inside look into the day-to-day life of a person in this profession. This "realness" definitely added to the story in a positive way and it would have been very difficult for an "outsider" to this profession to write this book in such a believable and compelling manner.
If you are a fan of medical mysteries, I recommend putting Munro’s "Murder under the Microscope" on your reading list. This is Munro’s first novel, but I expect that we will be seeing more books from her in the years to come.
"Personally, if I were going to kill someone, I would use a neuromuscular blocking agent. No muss, no fuss--you just stop breathing and that's it. It would be an awful way to die, though. You remain conscious right up till the end, but you can't move, and you can't call for help, and eventually you can't breathe, but you don't lose consciousness until the brain gets hypoxic enough. Why," I warmed to my subject, rubbing my hands together fiendishly, "you'd have time to tell your victim exactly why you had killed him, and he'd have time to think about it before he died!"
"Hal shivered. "Toni, you scare me sometimes. Remind me not to get you made at me. Come on, let's go to bed."
"I told you to shut up, bitch."
"Oh year? Who died and made you king,
"I don't have to listen to you whining all day, cunt."
"Yes you do, fuckhead. "You're in a cage just like
"So, what're you in for? Stealing lingerie from
Macy's" he sneered.
"Don't you wish, big boy."
"You better shut up, bitch, I'm not gonna tell you
"Good," I said. "I was getting tired of it.
"You better not get smart with me, bitch. I can tear
you into little pieces. You'll wish you'd never been
born. I'll beat your pretty face to pulp. I'll carve it
up with a hunting knife. No man will ever look at
My blood ran cold, and I shivered. Thank God this
animal was in a cage.
"Is that what you're in for?" I asked.
"I beat up my girlfriend. She was steppin' out on me.
Nobody does that to the Bruiser and gets away with
it," he bragged.
"I hear you," I said, suddenly inspired. "My boyfriend
did the same thing to me. But he'll never do it
"Yeah?" he said, interested in spite of himself.
"What'cha do to him?"
"I strangled him with a pair of her panties and
carved my initials on his scrotum."
I heard what I thought might be a little gasp.
"With a razor blade..."
Murder Under the Microscope Debut of Toni Day Series
By Jane Bennett Munro
As a winner of an IP Book Award for Excellence, I wasn't the least surprised that this book was selected. Written by a pathologist, based upon years of experience, Munro takes us directly into the life of Antoinette Day, who leads a small department at Perrine Memorial Hospital in Idaho. And then creates a life for her, as she says on the back cover, that becomes "a living hell..."
Which always makes for a good murder mystery, of course... This is a solid, well-written novel, but the poor main character, Toni Day...I'm surprised that she made it through all that was thrown at her in her first book! Will she be able to be the lead in a series, if her writer is going to be doing this? LOL...Seriously, just when you think you've begun to get a handle on whodunit... The bodies keep appearing! And it's all about trouble at work. Except when you're in a hospital, that work affects lives... And some of the bodies were incidental "patients" that got in the way. Yikes!
Oh, yeah...An old stalker of Toni's also shows up--but he's threatening Hal, Toni's husband!
Toni was fairly well established and respected for her department's work, except by one man. But when a new temporary doctor came--a beauty that had all the men drooling, it seemed that nothing was going to satisfy her!
And she used Tyler as her front man to get Toni into trouble... First they fired one of Toni's long-time employees!
Of course, Toni took immediate action and got her back on the job... But then she was hit by a car in the hospital parking area, and was off work for months! Surprising Toni even more was that a new qualified young woman was found and on the job by the next day!
When that young woman made a serious mistake which could have gotten Toni in trouble, Toni really began to watch and worry about what was happening!
Somehow Dr. Shore, the new doctor had to be involved--but how?! But when the body of Dr. Shore is found...in Toni's office... everybody was suspicious!
Toni even called for her mother to come to be with her (one cool lady!)
Now most of us, these days, because of the many television shows which delve into forensics, would probably think that Toni is going to find the answers through her own work...Not!
Toni is a pathologist, not into forensics, so you will learn the difference, while Dr. Day continues to be called upon to do her normal work, during surgeries, to assist there...and more... In one way, this is closer to a cozy mystery since the pathologist is acting to investigate the crimes through the normal interview, tracking, and analysis phases. This in itself is a different twist that I enjoyed, especially since many TV programs slot these specialists into jobs that they do not normally do in everyday life.
What this does for readers is allow us to experience the reality of pathology, while at the same time working to solve a murder mystery. I applaud Monro, for staying true to her professional credentials and sharing her experience in an important medical field.
The angle Munro used to slowly eliminate suspects, by death, LOL, was fun as well, since readers have to keep on working on the mystery right up to the end. Yeah, we get some hints at that point, but, you'll be guessing wrong, I'm thinking, even when surprises are revealed along the way. Not many thrills, but a steady strong whodunit that is sure to please those who love to play the investigator along with the main character. Toni, by the way, fooled me at first...I thought she was somewhat of a wimp...LOL...I was wrong... Enjoy!
Outstanding, April 18, 2013
Shirley Priscilla Johnson "Author/Reviewer - Florida"
This review is from: Murder under the Microscope (Paperback)
I love a good mystery, and one that takes place among medical personal is always an added bonus. We meet, Toni, a pathologist, and a very good one. Toni's life becomes complicated when Dr. Sally Shore arrives to fill in for an ailing colleague. Let's just say Toni and Sally were not the best of friends.Why Dr. Shore is against Toni is a mystery that leads to more mystery. Now the plot thickens when Dr. Shore turns up dead, her body found in Toni's office and suspicion turns her way, is she the guilty one? More is added into the mix for poor Toni, as her ex-boyfriend begins to stalk her and threatens her husband's life. How much can this poor girl take? What a ride!
I have to say this book was great. The main character won my heart right from the beginning. The author did a great job in her character development, drawing you into the life of Toni. Ms. Munro also brought the rest of the players to the mind's eye, their looks, their personalities, yet keeping hidden their true intents, until just the right moment to expose them. The plot of the story was well laid out, moving you along, keeping you guessing and bringing you deeper and deeper until the final conclusion. Shocking!Very good read with all the elements you expect to find and more. Recommended.