Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Too Much Blood by Jane Bennett Munro, Review and Author Interview!

Too Much Blood, by Jane Bennett Munro

From the author's website.
Too Much Blood is a gripping book that reveals how one midnight call drastically changes everything in the life of a brilliant and young female pathologist—leading her to a life-threatening situation. Between its covers, you will follow Toni Day as she must use all her expertise to unmask a killer and save herself and her loved ones from a gory death. Follow her as she attempts to uncover the truths of the suspicious circumstances and complex web of events and resolve the conundrum. Riveting and action packed, this book will take you on a mind-blowing journey of a lifetime!
 Pathologist Toni Day returns in this gory tale of a sleazy lawyer and his scam involving the doctors at Perrine Memorial Hospital, in which their earnings go directly into his hedge fund via an offshore leasing company, avoiding taxation. That is, until the economy takes its worst dive since 1929, and Jay Braithwaite Burke’s hedge fund is revealed as a Ponzi scheme. The Feds move in. Jay declares bankruptcy and disappears, only to reappear two months later, dead in his car in the middle of the snowy interstate.
 At autopsy, Toni discovers that Jay bled to death. Shortly thereafter, Jay’s partner also bleeds to death. Jay’s widow and four children are kept on the move by a series of house fires, and soon everybody ends up at Toni’s house. Toni’s life is already complicated enough; her work schedule is brutal, and she fears that her husband, Hal, is having an affair. In the meantime, a mysterious illness casts a bloody pall over the Christmas season. Toni must use all her pathological expertise to keep her loved ones from a similar fate, and in so doing nearly comes to a bloody end herself.

Too Much Blood is the second book in the Toni Day Mystery series by Jane Bennett Munro, MD.  Dr Munro is a pathologist in a small hospital in Twin Falls, Idaho, as is Dr Toni Day Shapiro.  There, the similarities end, I trust.  The citizens of the real Twin Falls are better behaved, hopefully, than those of the fictional Twin Falls.  The scheming, homicidal and incendiary nature of a few of the residents of fictional Twin Falls make Too Much Blood a very good read, however.  

Toni is a very likable character, well written and three-dimensional.  The amateur sleuthing of the protagonist in some other cozy mystery series can seem so far-fetched.  Toni's assistance to the Twin Falls police officers is crucial to solve these murders.  Her husband Hal, her mother Fiona, and her friends are also well-developed characters, and add a lot to the enjoyment of the book.   

I am finding it difficult to explain further about why I like this book so much, without giving major spoilers (and I don't do that), or else just repeating what is in the synopsis.  But I do.  Really, really like it ― another five-kitty read for Jane Bennett Munro!

Speaking of Jane Bennett Munro, I am very pleased to have the author of Murder Under the Microscope and Too Much Blood with me here in the studio today.  Studio audience, you are in for a treat!  Please join me in welcoming Jane Bennett Munro to Jane Reads!

How similar are the  fictional Twin Falls, Idaho and the real Twin Falls, Idaho?   The fictional Twin Falls, Idaho has a combination funeral director / coroner.  What about the actual Twin Falls?

JBM:  Right now our coroner is a retired detective from the Twin Falls Police Dept. However, several other towns around us have had owners of funeral homes as coroners. It’s an elected post. They used to call on local pathologists to do the autopsies. Back in the day when I was in solo practice, the county hospital did all the coroner’s cases for Twin Falls County, but I did them for the surrounding five counties. Now I’ve joined forces with the pathology group from the county hospital; my competitors are now my partners, and none of us has time to spend in court and still get our work done. So now the coroner’s cases go to Boise.

The fictional Twin Falls funeral director / coroner makes middle-of-the-night calls to announce his need for an autopsy tomorrow.  Did you receive annoying-yet-useless calls like this, during the 24 years when you were in solo practice?

JBM:  All the time. I can count on the fingers of one hand how many of those calls I actually got during the day.

Dr Toni has to perform autopsies at the funeral home, because Perrine Memorial doesn't have a proper morgue.  Was  this the case, when you were starting out in Twin Falls?

JBM:  When I was in solo practice, I had no morgue. I was the first and only pathologist my hospital ever had, up until we were bought out by the county hospital and I joined their pathology group. Since then, we’ve had a morgue. But yes, I did have to travel to funeral homes, lugging all my paraphernalia with me; until I made an arrangement with one particular funeral home to use their embalming room as my “morgue” and keep my equipment there.

Nearly all of the medical staff of Perrine Memorial invested in Jay's hedge fund, later revealed to be a Ponzi scheme.  Did something similar happen at the hospital you worked at?

JBM:  Yes, back in the eighties. Instead of a Ponzi scheme, it was a leasing company. The way it worked, the doctors became employees of the leasing company, who leased them to the hospital, who paid the leasing company for their services, and the leasing company paid the doctors. This way, they were able to deduct things from their income taxes that most people couldn’t,  and there was no limit on how much could be put into a pension plan. At the time, it was perfectly legal.

The lawyer who got us into it had started by putting us all in personal corporations, which lasted only a few months before the law changed and made them illegal for hospital-based physicians who used hospital employees instead of hiring their own. So the next step was the leasing company. My husband and I were skeptical. We figured if the law could be changed once, it could be changed twice, and we declined to participate. But all my other colleagues did, as well as many more doctors, lawyers, and the like all over Idaho and some in other states. It lasted five years, then it all fell apart in 1987, when Black Monday happened. The law changed again and made the leasing company illegal, and all the participants found themselves owing beaucoup bucks in back taxes, interest and penalties. One doctor sued and got some of his money back. But after that, the lawyer declared bankruptcy and left town. Nobody else got any of their money back.

You worked your way through medical school as a medical technologist.  I am a medical technologist, and have worked with someone who was working his way through pharmacy school.  He worked every weekend, double shifts as I recall.  How did you do it?   

JBM:  That’s pretty much what I did, too. I met my husband in that job, as well as friends who are still my friends today.

Is Dr Toni's freakin' good friend Elliott drawn on anyone in your life?

JBM:  Yes, he was a lawyer married to a friend of mine. His name was Elliott, too. They’re divorced now.

How long have you been a fan of Flip Wilson? 

JBM:  Decades. My husband and I got a German shepherd when we’d been married about a year. We named him Killer.

You gave several teasers about the possibility of a new love interest for Fiona.  Will all be revealed in Grievous Bodily Harm

JBM:  Yes, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Thanks for this opportunity!

You're very welcome, Jane!  Thank you so much for visiting Jane Reads for this interview.  I have enjoyed it very much, and I am sure the studio audience has also.  


I look forward to reading more about Toni, her family and friends in future books in the series.  Book three in the series, Grievous Bodily Harm, is out now, and book four is in progress.

I rated Too Much Blood five out of five kitties.  I give it my highest recommendation, for anyone who enjoys medical murder mysteries.

Note:  I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author, with no expectation of a positive review.