Compromising Positions by Beverly Bird
SIM #777, 3.99, PG-13 ISBN 0-373-0777-7
*****
Much too rarely a book comes along which is extraordinary. You barely notice it as it sets there, looking innocuous and unassuming. By chance you pick it up, begin reading and soon there's nothing short of the smoke alarm that could pull you away from what you're reading. Compromising Positions had that impact on me. It's a marvelously written, multi-layered, cat and mouse suspense story that had me reading long past my bedtime . . . and loving every minute of it.

Angela Byerly, the youngest and first woman to be appointed as chief medical examiner in Philadelphia, storms into District Attorney Jesse Hadley's office. She demands to be told why he has signed a release form giving permission for a body to be released before her autopsy has been completed. The body in question is that of a child suspected of being murdered. With the body already gone and cremated, there's no way to prove foul play.

Jesse Hadley, scion of a wealthy Philadelphia family, is fascinated by the flamboyant Dr. Byerly. She's totally unlike the milquetoast debutantes his family has been foisting off on him. Listening to Angela, he realizes that a problem is developing. He hasn't signed the release form; his signature has been forged. But why? And to what end?

Thus begins an intense story of danger and intrigue. When a friend of Jesse's is found murdered, a lone, foreign hair is found on the hand of the victim. Angela suspects that it is Jesse's, and she also suspects that it has been planted. Someone is using an intricate plot to discredit both of them. Again, why?

The answer to that question is what kept me reading and absorbed. Ms. Bird has created characters that I care about and has written an engrossing, high-intensity plot that kept me marveling as to what would happen next. Angela and Jesse are fleshed-out three-dimensional characters that are neither stupid nor immature, just human.

As the story develops, we learn that a horrific episode in Angela's past may be the genesis to the enfolding events. Fifteen years is a long time for our villain to be planning his revenge, and he has planned well. Very well.

To give away any more of the plot would be unfair. Let me guarantee that what I've given is just the beginning to a complex story of revenge and twisted logic.

With pleasure, I give Compromising Positions my highest accolade; it's going on my keeper shelf, to be read and savored again and again.

--Linda Mowery


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