Oath of Office

Bibliographic Information

Audiobook $25.70
Paperback $7.96
Hardback $8.74
Kindle $7.99
Associated ISBNs 9780312587536
9780312587543 — Paperback
9781429950435
9781410447470 — Hardcover

Readers Annotation

There’s something making people kill and Dr. Lou Welcome is on the case.

Rating (VOYA)

3P, 3Q

Its not super well written (there are character flaws and plot flaws).

Its not everyone’s cup of tea (medical thriller?).

Summary

Ok here we go…

Dr John Meacham has just seen a patient. He knows that everyone in his office heard and saw what happened. He needs to take care of it. There needs to be NO WITNESSES. So he loads his gun and kills everyone in his office before turning the gun on himself.

Dr Lou Welcome works for an office that evaluates Dr.s down on their luck, or who have had their licenses temporarily revoked. Lou had evaluated Dr Meacham and found him fit to practice. So when Lou finds out about Meacham’s shooting spree, he’s shocked, and knows that this will get his own license put on pause and his job suspended (since they’re going to blame him since he was the one who said Meacham could go back to work).

Lou finds Meacham’s behavior strange and out of character. He goes to the hospital where they took Meacham (who was not killed when he shot himself). He watches as the doctors in the hospital act weird and do things he wouldn’t do and which ultimately leads to Meacham’s death. Lou finds Meacham’s distraught wife and offers to take her home. She insists on driving. She’s acting strange, super focused and crazy, saying she needs to catch up to a cat in front of them because his taillight is out. She’s driving erratically and dangerously, and Lou keeps trying to talk her down and get her to pull over. They get pulled over by the police, the chief of police of Kings Ridge. He’s heard about Meacham, and knows Meacham’s wife, and doesn’t give them a ticket.

Meanwhile, Darlene is the first lady. Her husband is in a spot of trouble because the Secretary of Agriculture had to resign because of a scandal with an underage prostitute. Darlene and her PA are at a bar when the former Secretary (whom Darlene has known most of her life) approaches. He says that he was framed, but he isn’t asking her to get his job back. He’s asking her to see if her husband can move some of the legislation that he was working on through because it is important to the country. Darlene says she will.

Darlene’s husband completely blows up at her for even talking to the former Secretary, and makes her swear to never bring up the subject again.

Lou starts talking to the police chief and talks about his theory: that something is making people in Kings Ridge act nuts. The chief says he’ll help Lou however he can. They go to the home of the woman Meacham had examined before his breakdown and talk to her. She tells them that Meacham just got upset about her eating habits again. Lou asked if she saw him anywhere outside of the office and she said: Millie’s diner.

Lou meets up with his father for dinner at Millie’s diner. They order and chat about Lou’s case and his father’s latest scheme. And then the kid behind the counter tries to cut off his hand. They rush him to the hospital (not the one in Kings Ridge at Lou’s insistence) and the doctor’s there are able to save the kid’s hand. Millie is super grateful to Lou and the two talk about the diner and the people in the town.

Meanwhile, Darlene is approached by someone she starts calling “double M,” he plays the tape of the girl getting contracted to set up the Secretary and tells her to meet him. Darlene and the PA set up a clever scheme for Darlene to sneak away from her guards. Double M tells her to find the girl. Darlene’s personal guard guy knows that she snuck off, and tells her he doesn’t care what she’s doing, but to make sure he’s there. So, he uses some connections to find some girls the girl used to work with. Darlene learns about the girl, and then does some research. She finds that the girl is dead in Florida.

Lou boxes. Lou finds that he’s being tailed. With some advice from his boxing coach, he slips out of his apartment. Coach, George, Lou and the dumb guy, trail the tail. They end up in a corn field. They notice the corn is weird. Then get attacked. The dumb guy gets killed, George and Lou get chased by a killer combine. They escape.

The next day, Lou, Coach and George bring the police out to the field. They meet the guy who runs the place (who’s super suspicious) and the guy’s son. They get the brush off.

Lou talks to the kid who tried to cut his hand off, and finds that the kid has giant man-eating termites as pets. He finds this disturbing and suspicious. Lou gets contacted by Darlene. Lou and Darlene go to talk to an entomologist. He says “yeah those aren’t natural.” He dissects the queen Lou brought. Lou gets some equipment from the entomologist to help him search for the hive.

Darlene talks to her husband about the mutant corn and the termites. He gets pissed and says he’s not going to do anything about it. And that he’s made a deal with the Chinese in exchange for that corn. Darlene wonders who this man is and where her husband has gone.

Lou tracks the termites back to an old looking shack in the woods, near the farm with the mutant corn. He surmises that this is the place where they’ve been experimenting on the corn/termites. He calls the police chief. The chief is ranting to Lou as he opens the cabin with a key and continues ranting as he leads Lou down into the lab. Lou finally grasps that the chief was in on it the whole time (too late). The chief attacks. Lou escapes. The farmer’s son ends up being “double M.” Double M and the chief end up going over the platform above a pit of termites and getting eaten alive. Lou manages to escape.

Lou tells his ex-wife, her new husband and daughter to go hide for a little bit since powerful people are trying to kill him and may try to hurt him by hurting them. He then gets a call from the farmer saying he has Lou’s friends (Coach and George). Lou must go meet with him.

Lou jumps on a moving train thinking he can get to Coach and George before they’re to be killed. He gets Coach and George free, but then all three get captured. They’re put in a silo and the farmer starts interrogating them and pouring corn on them. They’re about to suffocate when they’re rescued by the army. Darlene had convinced her husband to do something. He now needs to resign.

Lou and Darlene agree that though they have feelings for each other, Darlene is staying with her husband.

Evaluation

Now that I’ve thought about it, I am reminded of that time I read Prey by Michael Crichton. Science gone wrong! But medical science this time. I hadn’t even made the connection before… I blame Goodreads and putting a Robin Cook book in the Readalikes (note to self: finally read a Robin Cook book).

Anyway….

This was a good way to spend 10.5 hours. It wasn’t revolutionary, it wasn’t super awesome, but it was a pretty good book that I liked listening to.

Look, there’s a pretty forced love story (because what book doesn’t have a love story, and all female characters need to be involved in one you know…), the plot has some issues, and it wasn’t super thrilling. But, despite that overwhelming praise, it was a nice book.

I like Lou Welcome. He’s a doctor bouncing back from some tough times. He’s got strained family relationships, and he’s got good family relationships. Its nice to see two divorced characters getting along. His relationship with his daughter is great. And other than the forced love interest, he’s a really well formed character.

Darlene (the first lady) isn’t a very compelling character. She is a flawed character for sure (super trusting, faithful to her dumbass husband), but her flaws don’t make her interesting. She’s flat and one dimensional, as are her friends and even her husband.

Lou’s boxing buddies were pretty well thought out. They, while not completely 3 dimensional, were at least fun characters with personality.

D.C. is a big part of the book, and has some good description. Kings Ridge, however, is much more fleshed out than the nation’s capitol. Its got that small town vibe, and it really shows how small town people interact.

Its not the best mystery, for sure. Its not super thrilling. But it was a good way to spend some time (though I may have had a moment when I said aloud “you dumbass,” and I haven’t done that since the Dan Brown incident).

Genre

Medical Thriller

Suspense

Readalikes

Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline

Cell by Robin Cook

Significance

Modern science gone wrong book with a mystery.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

How believable is evil super corn?

Is what Millie did so wrong? What would you have done if you were in her shoes?

Discuss President and his decisions.

Author’s website

Michael Palmer

Awards

none

Reviews

Kirkus

PW

Why I Chose It

I kept seeing the third book in the series (Resistant) and wanted to read that one, so I thought I’d start with the first.

Other Information

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The Refrigerator Monologues

the-refrigerator-monologues-cover

Bibliographic Information

Audiobook $18.99
Paperback $10.11
Hardback $14.11
Kindle $7.99
Associated ISBNs 9781481459341
9781481459365
9781481459358 — Paperback

Readers Annotation

They died pointless deaths and are mad about it.

Rating (VOYA)

3P because its an off-shoot of comics. Not a comic, but addressing comics issues. Plus, lady-anger.

4Q because its written well, but could be dry at times.

Summary

Paige Embry is a long time resident of Deadtown, where the dead go. Deadtown gets everything that is forgotten (Paige laments at one point that they’ll never get Harry Potter because it will never die). Paige was in college studying music. She met the superhero boyfriend in music class with the one-handed professor. They started dating. She decided to show him what she was working on (hyper-mercury). He got transformed and became Kid Mercury. He did the superhero thing (super-fast) but the professor figured out that Paige had accidentally made him and made her change him as well. Paige followed the two to the bridge where they were having their big showdown, thinking she could help somehow, and got shoved off the edge. The kid caught her before she hit the ground, but he ended up breaking her spine, killing her. She’s been in Deadtown ever since, in the clothes she was buried in,  stuck loving the boy who hasn’t tried to save her.

Julia Ash was a telepathic, and a powerful one. She was taking to the special school for “mockingbirds” (mutants) (by a Dr X pun lady). She grew close to the fire throwing guy. She got more powerful, soon becoming more powerful than everyone at the school and on the superhero team. One day they take on their (Magneto) arch-enemy and he has a new mockingbird with him. The mockingbird kills the man she loves, and then sends them to a parallel universe. He talks to her and convinces her its better this way. They spend time in a world without her team (and the USA). They become involved. Then she ends up back where it all began, with him killing the man she loves. She grows super powerful, eats a sun and is killed. Then her life starts over again. Doomed to live in the same loop forever. Flickering in and out of existence in Deadtown forever.

Pauline Ketch is mad. Her father is abusive (Bad Daddy). He eventually has her committed, where she sees Mr. Punch. She somehow cons her way into giving him his meds (she says her superpower is that she can get anyone to like her for five minutes). She starts not giving him his meds. He eventually reveals that he was playing her all along. He threatens her. She reveals that she knows the identity of Grimdark (Batman) so they break out together. She keeps him hooked to her by not telling him what he wants to know (revealing that he’s impotent). Eventually she tells him and he kills her after screwing her. She is adamant that her man is coming for her.

Blue Bayou is a princess of Atlantis. She doesn’t want to be though. She shacks up with her boyfriend and joins a band. She gets drunk on air and rebels against the authority. She goes up to the surface one night with her boyfriend and stays there after he swims away. There she meets (Aquaman) Surge *I think*. They have sex. She gets pregnant. They’re married. He goes back with her to Atlantis (and feels less special because down there he’s just like everyone else). Her ex has taken the thrown. He kills her son (who she could telepathically communicate with). Her husband has her committed. She comes to Deadtown to search for her son.

Daisy Green gets involved with her superhero. She finds him disconnected. She becomes disconnected. She leaves him and starts starring in porn. Then she starts hooking. And then is killed.

Samantha Dane is the girlfriend of Chiaroscuro (Green Lantern). She knows all the supers in the group and her boyfriend is just learning to superhero. One of the boyfriends super friends gets manipulated into killing her and the cat and stuffing them in the fridge.

Paige tells us that they all meet up, but that she’s the only one who’s always at the meetings, the other girls come and go. They’re at the cafe when the gargoyle who runs the place tells them that one of theirs just showed up in the fridge. The girls pull Samantha out and bring her to their table.

Evaluation

FYI, this book just came out a month or so ago. There are spoilers!

So…. I wanted to love this book. Addressing the issue of friging in comics? (AKA killing the wife/girlfriend just to propel a male character’s storyline) Looking at the women who were killed for that guy? Sounds like a winner to me! Alas, it left me cold. Don’t get me wrong, this is a really good book and well written. But, I just didn’t connect to it emotionally.

Sure, we’ve got all the different women : Paige Embry (Gwen Stacy), Julia Ash (Jean Grey), Pauline Ketch (Harley Quinn), Blue Bayou (Queen Mera), Daisy Green (Karen Page), and Samantha Dane (Alexandra DeWitt). Each woman’s story is horrible and tinged with the anger that woman feels for having to end up like this.

Out of the six of them, I found Blue Bayou, Julia Ash and Daisy Green’s most compelling. Honestly, I found Pauline’s story boring. Samantha’s was pointless (and yes, that is the point) and Paige is the one that everyone already knows.

Pauline was just…. I don’t know. Didn’t grab me. Yes, she was unstable. Yes, she had a shitty dad. Yes, she latched onto the wrong person and ended up in an abusive relationship that clearly was one-sided. And yes, she was killed right after she gave him the info he wanted. But… its an old story. It wasn’t compelling. Pauline wasn’t compelling. Maybe it was the mindset, or maybe it was the story, but she wasn’t a sympathetic character and her motivations weren’t really believable (but maybe that was the point? Meta fiction is complicated).

Paige was perhaps the most disconnected of them all. She’s been there the longest and she knows she’s never going back. Her guy moved on, and she’s stuck there, stuck in love with him. Her story was what you’d expect, but unfortunately left me shrugging. I get it, I know why she’s there, but that doesn’t mean she’s a character that I latched onto.

Samantha was just so pointless. Its an obvious parallel to her DC counterpoint. Pointlessly killed in a shocking way just to invoke a reaction out of the male superhero.

Blue Bayou was a compelling case of madness and frustration with her life and how it turned out. Julia was a powerful woman that no one (man) could control, and was punished for it. Daisy slipped into prostitution.

The characters are definitely where its at for this one. Deadtown, and the various cities that the women’s lives take place in are secondary. We get some good description of Deadtown and how it works, but the other settings just aren’t as important as the women’s stories.

There are really seven separate plots. Each of the women’s stories and the story of them meeting up at the cafe and meeting Samantha. The plot’s work if the characters are compelling (and if you know comics, you know their stories).

It wasn’t the greatest thing I read, but it was an interesting take on something that’s prevalent in comics (even today).

Genre

Short Stories

Superhero Stories

Readalikes

There is nothing like this book. I could give you superheroines or strong female leads, but there is nothing else that shows the anger of these types of characters after they’ve been friged, or just the concept of friging.

Significance

Showing the other side of ‘friged superheros girlfriends.

Book Discussion Questions and Ideas

Which woman’s story did you find most compelling?

Do you think killing the woman/girlfriend/wife is a legitimate way to progress a man’s story?

How are these women’s stories reflected in real life?

Author’s website

Catheryn M Valente

Awards

None (yet?)

Reviews

Kirkus

PW

Why I Chose It

This is a prevalent Trope in Comics (or everything really) and this sounded like an interesting take on the concept.

Other Information

Check out:The Original Women in Refrigerators siteTV Tropes page on Women in Refrigerators