Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Jo Beckett calls herself a "deadshrinker". She's a forensic psychiatrist, the expert who is called in when a death is equivocal, when we don't know if the cause is accident, murder, or suicide. She painstakingly recreates the state of mind of the deceased, to such a degree as to meet the burden of proof in a court of law. She tells the truth for those who no longer can, like Orson Scott Card's Speaker For The Dead.

She's the protagonist of Meg Gardiner's thriller The Dirty Secrets Club. San Francisco's most beautiful people are dying in at least pairs, including a rising star in the federal prosecutor's office -- she drove her BMW off a bridge and crashed into an airport shuttle. Little things at the scene don't add up, and Jo Beckett is asked to consult by the SFPD. Her examination leads to the discovery of the Dirty Secrets Club, a group of rich and powerful people linked by awful things from their separate pasts, things they would rather die than see become common knowledge.

DSC has the combination of snappy one liners, quirky characters -- especially Ferd and Mr. Peebles! -- and suspense that Meg Gardiner is known for. It also has a wonderful sense of place. San Francisco and its close environs are as tangibly rendered as anything I've read, and the ways they shaped Jo are vital to the story.

I like Jo Beckett, and she's one of the few characters in contemporary literature I'd like to know personally.


Fifecat said...

Sounds like a very interesting angle on these forensic-type books.

Eddie said...

It is indeed. A second book in this series, The Memory Collector, has just been published in hardback, and I'm strongly considering getting it after my next payday.