Author: Richard Sanders
Author: Richard Sanders
In Dead Line Richard Sanders offers up a multifaceted tale that hangs its hat on an oddly strange behavior known as a fugue state. And if you are wondering if such a condition actually exists, you are not alone. Wikipedia describes a fugue state “as a rare psychiatric disorder characterized by reversible amnesia for personal identity, including the memories, personality and other identifying characteristics of individuality. The state is usually short-lived (hours to days), but can last months or longer. Dissociative fugue usually involves unplanned travel or wandering, and is sometimes accompanied by the establishment of a new identity.” Basically, it is brought about by stress or a traumatic incident.
As our offbeat story opens, Trish Fennelosa's mother comes home one day to find blood all over the house and her daughter Katie missing. The prime suspect turns out to be Katie's fifteen-year old sister Trish, who proved to be of very little help when questioned by the police investigators. In fact, Trish never said that she missed her sister and that she was sorry Katie was gone. Katie's body was never found. However, the jury only had to deliberate for two hours and twenty-one minutes to find Trish guilty of murdering her sister.
Trish receives a sentence of twenty-five years to life and until she was eighteen she was to serve part of her time at Blue Mountain Correctional. When Trish was nineteen her case was reopened and although she was not exactly exonerated, there was sufficient evidence for reasonable doubt. At twenty-two Trish's conviction was overturned and she walks out of prison a free person.
Trish eventually becomes the publisher of a very successful magazine called TrishDish that some considered its swashbuckling-brash content vulgar, shameless, coarse, libelous and scandalous. Nonetheless, this does not prevent her from receiving a sweetheart offer including editorial control from the Burgess Edwards Media (BEM)company. Just about the same time that this happens, Trish is involved in a car accident that nearly costs her life, and like her sister, no one knew what really happened. It should be mentioned that at the time of the mishap the culprit that caused the accident yelled out at Trish “I know what you did”-words, as we will discover, will come back to haunt Trish.
Shortly after the accident, Trish decides to devote an entire issue of her magazine to Indira Gandhi, India's first woman prime minister, which did not exactly find favor with BEM. Moreover, the principals of BEM couldn't figure out what was happening to Trish and decide to bring in one of their own editors and a former private investigator Quinn McShane, who likewise spent some time in the slammer for manslaughter- something akin to Trish's ordeal. McShane is ordered to find out what is going on with Trish. What he discovers is that Trish holds frequent seances wherein she strongly believes she is Indira Gandhi and furthermore has everyone whom she employs to go along with her escapades. As McShane states: “She wasn't playing, she wasn't pretending.”
Throughout all of these flights of fancy a psychoanalyst that specializes in immersion therapy is present and informs McShane that she is trying to get to the bottom as to what is going on in Trish's mind and the cause of her fugue state episodes.
Dead Line is a highly compelling and chilling read and I commend Sanders for crafting a fluid, snaky thriller of great momentum with a great deal of wit thrown in to boot. The tale succeeds in interweaving the workings of someone experiencing a fugue state in all its complexity while retaining the page-turning pleasures of a genuine thriller sucking you into its wild intrigue with its final poignant ending that will surely throw you for a loop. The primary and secondary characters are all finely drawn and in their own quirky way contribute to the momentum of the plot. In addition. Sanders skillfully uses humor and appropriate details to make each stand out. The result is a cleverly well-constructed novel that will keep you glued to your chair and begging for more.
Richard Sanders worked for
eleven years as an Executive Editor at Entertainment Weekly and (in
two separate stints) at People Magazine and people com for twelve
years. He has spent time in jail. Rehab and a psych ward and as he
states, somehow became a successful editor at Time Inc. He has tried
to reflect these experiences in Dead Line. He often speaks to young
journalists and using himself as an example for inspiration. Some of
his other McShane books include Sex Death Dream Talk, The Dead Have A
Thousand Dreams, Tell no lie, We watched her die, The lower
Manhattan: Book of the Dead, and The Seventh Compass Point of Death.
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