April 17, 2014

Death Spiral by Janie Chodosh

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:58 am by suebe2

Death Spiral
by Janie Chodosh
Poisoned Pen Press

When a heroine addict dies on her bathroom floor, the police only take a quick look at the facts.  One addict + Crappy apartment +  Dead = Overdose.

Faith isn’t entirely surprised eventhough the dead addict was her mother.  The crazy thing is that mom insisted she was clean.  No, she hadn’t looked good towards the end but the papery skin, sores, and bruises weren’t the same old symptoms.  Still, dead is dead.

Faith is bundled out of Phildelphia and to her aunts house.  Aunt T doesn’t fuss but she works hard for all she has and wasn’t banking on having to take in her sister’s teenage daughter.  Faith does her best not to impose but even here she knows who she is — the daughter of an addict.

Then she gets a message from her mother’s friend.  They were in the same clinical trial and now she needs help.  The next day, the woman is dead.  Faith believes in science too much to accept this as a coincidence.  And she’s been thinking about science a lot lately.  Could she have the same genes as her mother?  Sure, she has some of her mother’s genes but the ones Faith is worries about are for addiction.

Then she finds out that the trial her mother was involved in had something to do with genetics.  Could this be what made her mother sick?

To solve the mystery, Faith has to learn about not only genetics but gene therapy but she also has to learn an even more difficult lesson – how to trust.

This isn’t an easy book to get into to simply because Faith isn’t particularly lovable.  She holds people at a distance because, not surprisingly, she has trust issues.  And Chodosh does an amazing job portraying this character.  In addition to make her suspicious of others and more than a little bristly, she’s stepped outside of the “troubled family/poor neighborhood” stereotype and given us a girl who is really good at science.  Faith may not understand everything that she finds about genetics but she understands enough to get herself into serious trouble.

Fortunately, she also learns enough to start trusting.  Between her new best friend, clothes-horse Anj, a may-be boyfriend, her Aunt and even her Aunt’s boyfriend, she has the support she needs to face this mystery and everyone who made this treatment, what should be a hope for addicts, into a nightmare.

Personally, what I love most about this is that it is smart fiction.  The main character is brainy and loves science.  She may not understand everything that she reads but she knows enough to realize when the facts don’t add up.



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