Twisted Justice
by Patricia Gussin

Oceanview Publishing, Ipswich, MA, 2007. ISBN 9781933515083.
Reviewed by Mary Jo Doig
Posted on 12/04/2007

Fiction: Mystery

Seven years have passed in Laura Nelson's life since she debuted in Patricia Gussin's first novel, Shadow of Death. Now, in Twisted Justice, it is the later '70s. Jimmy Carter is President of the US, Laura Nelson has completed medical school and has become a thoracic surgeon and mother of five bright children: Mike, 14; Kevin, 11; Patrick (child of the rape that occurred in Shadow of Death), 7; and twin daughters Natalie and Nicole, three. Steve, her gorgeous husband, appears on billboards across the Tampa Bay area as co-anchor on Channel 8's 11 o'clock news with the blonde and lovely Kim Connor, who, we quickly learn, is the more talented of the duo. It's a seemingly beautiful, busy, and successful time in all their lives as we open the book.

Called to the hospital for emergency surgery on a little girl, Laura arrives home at 2:30 a.m. and discovers her husband and Kim Connor in what Steve later swears is his first indiscretion since their marriage. Laura is hurt and devastated as Steve explains that Kim's boyfriend beat her up, that he invited her over to comfort her, and things took an unexpected turn. As they talk, we sense that their marriage has been floundering for some time while each has worked to advance their careers. Laura tells Steve to move out. Kim resigns and moves away from her abusive boyfriend, the TV station lets Steve go, and when Kim is found murdered in Steve's apartment, the evidence points to Laura, who is arrested and jailed.

The plot moves at a rapid-fire pace and holds the reader intently. Laura Nelson is a self-actualized woman who manages her mounting challenges smartly, yet with genuine emotion. This could be rather unbelievable if it were not for the fact that she has a circle of friends, acquaintances, and distant college contacts who value her highly and want to help. Conveniently, too, Laura has a large stash of money in a hidden account left to her by a friend—unknown to Steve, who has nearly cleaned out their joint bank accounts. This enables her to hire a team of lawyers and an investigator, who work with her to unravel the fascinating twists and turns of this compelling mystery, as Laura determines to regain her life, children, and career.

The historical setting of the later '70s adds another fascinating dimension to this mystery. Gussin's first novel, Shadow of Death (a nominee for Best First Novel in the Thriller Awards), was selected by Michigan State University as one of the textbooks for a U.S. Urban History course and also as a freshman text at Duquesne University.

A mystery lover all my life, I couldn't put Twisted Justice down. I've already ordered Gussin's first novel and will be anticipating her next.

Patricia Gussin, one of six children, is Board Certified in Family Medicine. Her website tells us she "has practiced medicine and has directed medical research in her role as worldwide vice president for a leading healthcare company." She and her husband, Dr. Robert Gussin, have seven children and sixteen grandchildren. Visit Gussin's website.

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