Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Publisher:  Mysterious Press / Time-Warner Books
Release Date: September 3, 2003
ISBN: 0-89296-773-0
Format Reviewed: Hardcover
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Genre: Mystery
Reviewed: 2003
Reviewer: Kristin Johnson
Reviewer Notes: Reviewer Kristin Johnson will release her second book, CHRISTMAS COOKIES ARE FOR GIVING, co-written with Mimi Cummins, in September 2003. Her third book, ORDINARY MIRACLES: My Incredible Spiritual, Artistic and Scientific Journey, co-written with Sir Rupert A.L. Perrin, M.D., will be published by PublishAmerica in 2004.

Confessions of a Death Maiden
Ruth Francisco

      If you think you hate your HMO or PPO, don't sign up for the Abbot Kinney Medical Center/Silvanus Corporation/Biobreed plan, or you'll wind up dead. Particularly if you happen to be a member of the Tarascans, an Indian tribe in the war-torn Chiapas region of Mexico, sent as a Christ-like ambassador to the outside world to prevent the tribe, which is born with immunity to disease--this medical wonder has an intriguing explanation linked to the Aztecs, Toltecs and Mayans.

      Tomas, a little boy who is the Christ-like figure in question, dies under the care of Frances Oliver, a deathmaiden. She is a member of the fictional Society of Deathmaidens, a hospice-like Dr. Kevorkian-esque group that acts as midwives to the dying, helping them transition with dignity. But Frances starts asking questions into Tomas' death. From the start, this unusual computer-and-TV-spurning heroine with friends such as the eccentric artist and deathmaiden would-have-been Pepper, gets tangled into that classic plot, the Greedy Doctor Frankensteins Gone Mad in Vast Conspiracy. Yes, it's an illegal organ-harvesting scheme painted as rich white people profiting off the sacrifice of an Indian tribe (the author admits she portrays the Tarascans as cannibals without any proof) and obscuring the very real need for organ donors.

      The doctors involved inevitably are villains; one of them is even named Dr. Faust. In suspense tradition, Frances' investigation risks her status as a deathmaiden as the fictional society is afraid she'll jeopardize the passage of a bill to cover deathmaidens under Medicare. Of course, Frances makes mistakes, such as leaving Tomas's
bedside and later cremating him, that complicate her journey. And she herself begins to doubt her own vocation. The quest for life and death becomes a soul struggle as Frances' ordered life unravels.

      The plot takes a long time to reach its conclusion and uncover the evidence, but offers twists and turns; there has to be some suspense in this mystery, after all, but it's Frances' soul reflections and inner struggle that drive the book, as well as an exploration of the meaning of medicine and the value of death.

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