For laboratory director Harry Benedict this means that he is close to the hospital when he needs to take his son for treatment. It also means that when his son dies, due to an error in the prescription, he is with people that he knows. It also means that other individuals around the laboratory have access to the prescribing computer system and could have made the fatal alteration that murdered Harry's child.
By the end of Chapter 4 Harry has identified laboratory co-worker Robert Kelso as making the deathly alteration. And Harry has killed him.
With Harry in custody the police begin investigating, and Department of Health Inspector Tom Jones arrives to begin checking the computer system, the handling of log-ons and passwords, and the beginning of a series of identifications of potential killers. Harry's choice was not necessarily the right one.
Not that Richard Kelso was a nice man. But Harry himself is not very nice - a bit of an oik from the East End of London who has worked himself up, but has never made the connections or adopted the social manners that might ease his way. He also took Kelso's girlfriend in the past, but was driving when she was killed in an accident. Now Harry has another girlfriend, but that doesn't stop him eyeing the nurses on the ward. You can take Harry out of the East End, but you can take the East End out of him.
Tom Jones does not just treat everyone as a suspect. In SHADOWS BEHIND A SCREEN everyone in turn becomes a suspect, suspicion turns back on Harry, a nurse makes a posthumous admission. And the murderer is revealed to be driven by a taste as bad as Harry's.
I only wish that Andrew Puckett did not say that his novels are based on his own experience working in the Health Service. It seems a system doomed to promote ill-health, misery and death.
For something to be even it has to have something to be even with - it has to be paired. In Brad Meltzer's second novel we don't have a dead pair, but we have a pair facing death. Unfortunately for husband and wife lawyers Jared Lynch and Sarah Tate they find themselves on opposite sides of a case, and both might find themselves out at Potter's Field if the case does not go the right way. Especially for Jared, hired for the defence, who is told by his boss that if he loses the case he will lose his job, and told by his retainer that he will lose his wife to an assassin. Jared sits trembling as photographs and more dropped on his desk reveal that every facet of his married life is no secret. Where the photographer's lens has gone before the fatal bullet can go too. But Jared is forbidden to tell Sarah.
Meanwhile Sarah has begun her first day as an Assistant District Attorney in New York, apparently without ever watching a TV programme or documentary about justice and its ways in the Big Apple, so that the back stabbing, case snatching, and general cattiness she finds comes as something as a shock to her. As she has just had six months off work with a nervous breakdown you might wonder what she has been doing with her time.
The case itself is quite small - a man arrested for burglary. Why should someone go to such lengths to ensure that the case is kept quiet? Why should the witnesses hold back?
Things, of course, are not as they seem. The questions come: how can Jared and Sarah each overcome their weak characters, how can they fight back despite the pervasive surveillance, how can Jared reveal to Sarah why he wants her to give up the case, and how can Sarah struggle against her corrupt bosses? And how can they investigate what they then discover to be a murder mystery?
Because that is where DEAD EVEN gets its length - there are two plots. One is the discovery and investigation of the murder, the other is fight back by the couple against their almost Satanic enemy. The revelation of their way of talking in private, but how it is countermined by the Luciferian intelligence, in Chapter 16 is one of the surprising things of this book.
Perceptive readers will have recognised that DEAD EVEN has some similarities with Andrew Klavan's DON'T SAY A WORD, which also features attempts to escape from blackmailing, pervasive surveillance, but this pairing is unfortunate for DEAD EVEN, because it loses in the comparison.
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