Sunday, April 1, 2007

Deadman's Switch

Deadman's Switch
Written by Barbara Seranella
St. Martin's - Minotaur
Reviewed by Iliana

Charlotte Lyon, a crisis management expert, has just been hired by Sun Rail Company to help them handle a serious crisis. One of its trains, the Sunliner Express, derailed and has left two people dead, the train’s conductor and a film celebrity.

With her smarts and no-nonsense attitude Charlotte is soon commandeering the news that gets leaked out to the media, she organizes assistance for the train’s passengers who are still in shock, and most of all Charlotte is going to find out who was the mysterious man on the motorcycle who stepped in to help the passengers but quickly left.

It’s not easy for Charlotte to take care of business, fight her growing attraction to Todd Hannigan, an investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board, and suddenly be called to her mom’s bedside but as Charlotte says, “the only thing she wasn’t prepared for was no crisis at all.” Charlotte has her own OCD issues to deal with and is slowly recovering from grief over her husband’s recent death but she finds that work is what keeps her focused.

Over the course of the week Charlotte will interview the train conductor’s widow who seems to be getting a lot of help from a over-friendly family friend, a woman who is sure she saw an alien on her land and many others who will have her on alert. Could they have had anything to do with the derailment? Who stood most to gain from the tragedy? As Charlotte gets closer to the truth she starts to doubt everyone’s innocence.

This story is one to keep you on your toes to find out who did it. The only times when it lost a bit of its steam (bad pun intended) was when it got bogged down with train terminology but that aside it was impressive to see Charlotte at work. Crisis management is a fast paced industry, where one “no comment” or delayed story can cause you a loss of money, reputation and clients. Seranella did an outstanding job giving the reader a glimpse into this world.

I thought Seranella especially excelled at describing the relationship Charlotte has with her mom. Lisa Lyon has lived a life of drugs and drinking and now must make some drastic changes or her health will continue to pay the price. Charlotte is torn between demonstrating tough-love and compassion.

This was a good first book in the planned series of Charlotte Lyon but unfortunately the mystery world lost Barbara Seranella earlier in 2007 when she died of liver disease. For her fans this is will be a gem of a book to keep and for newcomers to the writing of Seranella there is the Munch Manici bestselling series to discover.

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