Sunday, October 21, 2012

Heart Stopper by R J Samuel

Publisher:      CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Heart Stopper is a medical mystery and suspense story.  Its topic is so realistic that it’s frightening and it makes the title especially appropriate.

Priya Joseph is a woman caught between cultures.  Although her parents came from India, she was raised in Ireland, so she identifies as Irish, but can’t escape the expectations of an Indian daughter.  She also is a gay woman living in a straight culture, a situation her parents refuse to accept.  Priya retreats into the world of cyber code where everything is supposed to be black and white, pure and logical.  Emphasis is on “supposed.”  She is a very successful programmer for a company that makes heart pacemakers when her life starts to unravel.

Priya’s nightmare begins when she wakes up in the apartment of her boss and he’s dead.  She can’t remember how she got there, so she panics and flees.  Her boss’s sister Reyna first suspects Priya of having something to do with his death and then expects her to help uncover what happened to him.  The facts slowly reveal a conspiracy with frightening possibilities and that it may all be based on research that Priya did years before.  Pacemakers are being used in a way never intended.  As Priya tries to sort out the situation, she finds herself developing an attraction to Reyna and being hunted by people who don’t want the secret of what they are doing revealed.

This book could have used a stronger editor.  There are mistakes through it and some scenes needed to be cut back.  The medical jargon and details about pacemakers will probably be skipped by most readers.  The opening scene doesn’t seem necessary or pertinent to the rest of the book, but that’s a small issue.  On the whole though, the book is well paced and the characters are complex.

At least Heart Stopper is different from many of the books that are flooding out of lesbian presses now.  The story is unique and depends on true suspense to carry the plot.  It’s not a cookie cutter version of the usual mysteries that aren’t mysteries but vehicles for a love story.  The conclusion of the book also takes a different path from the usual easy happy ever after version.  With stronger editing, R J Samuel could emerge as a major writer in the genre.

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