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by Manda Scott
Crime Line, July 2000
304 pages
ISBN: 055357969X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Lee Adams, pathologist and Kellen Stewart are climbing a hitherto unclimbed rock face. Kell reaches the 4th level and finds the body of another doctor, Eric Dalziel. They phone for a resue helicopter which takes them to the hospital where all worked, and Lee finds that his injuries are consistent with a fall from about 75 feet, which would have placed him halfway up the next part of the cliff when he lost his grip. Eric was a very careful climber and would never have tried this himself.

Meanwhile, Kellen and Dierdre Fitzpatrick, anesthetist, have a paper to deliver at a medical conference the next week, on the use of pain killing drugs in terminal care patients. While at the conference, another doctor dies in suspicious circumstances. And then a medical statistician also dies. All the decedents have ties to Lee, and she is taken into custody, but Kellen is sure her friend didn't do it.

This is not an easy book to read. Kellen sits with the dying and helps them through their ordeals. Lee has a failed surgical residency in her past, and Sarah, her partner, is in a hospital in a third world country; Dee is still mourning the death of her partner, who died of ovarian cancer while a patient in a clinical trial; and of course Kellen has the death of her former partner on her conscience. Of them all, Kellen, who has Nina and the farm, is the most psychologically centered.

Love and death are the themes of this, the third in the Kellen Stewart series. (The first two are Hen's Teeth, and Night Mares). The title comes from a Ted Hughes poem, and I think Scott proves him wrong; love IS stronger than death.

Editor's note. This review is based on the UK paperback:

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, July 2002

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