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Brain Dead

Brain Dead

3.1 24
by Eileen Dreyer

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When trauma nurse Timmie Parker moves from California to her old hometown in Missouri, it seems her hope for turning her life around will finally be realized: she is miles away from her bitter ex-husband, respected and admired by her new coworkers and renewing her ties to her family. Then the bodies begin to pile up.

Elderly patients from Restcrest, a highly


When trauma nurse Timmie Parker moves from California to her old hometown in Missouri, it seems her hope for turning her life around will finally be realized: she is miles away from her bitter ex-husband, respected and admired by her new coworkers and renewing her ties to her family. Then the bodies begin to pile up.

Elderly patients from Restcrest, a highly regarded and innovative senior citizen care facility attached to the hospital, keep dying in her ER, and Timmie wants to know why. But when she tries to search for answers, she gets caught in a tangled mystery that seems dangerously linked to her new friends and to the welfare of her own father. She finds an ally in Daniel Murphy, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who offers her much-needed support. Together, they embark on an investigation that promises to send Murphy soaring to the top of his profession, but which also threatens to suck Timmie into a deadly conspiracy that could cost her not only her job and peace of mind, but also her life.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Romance author Dreyer (a.k.a Kathleen Korbel) debuts in hardcover with a galloping suspenser featuring a brace of wisecracking sleuths who turn up murder and shady dealings in the medical establishments of a small community. From an Alzheimer research hospital to the ER of a facility about to be HMO-ed, the angel of death has been visiting the elderly before their time.

Timmie Parker, mom of a young child and recently divorced, has returned to her old hometown of Puckett, Missouri, to work in the local ER and keep a 24-hour watch on her senile father, the fabled Joe Leary, who's given to majestic bursts of patriotic Irish anthems and selections from Yeats and Joyce. Timmie first meets Dan Murphy, a booze-worn Pulitzer journalist, at a horse show where shots narrowly miss them. Who, Timmie begins to wonder, were the shots aimed at? Was it Landry, a corporate heavy hired to bring big profit-making to Puckett's charitable hospital? Dr. Alex Raymond, the seemingly benevolent head of Restcrest, an Alzheimer hospital? Or were they aimed at some of the other assorted bigwigs present? When the second ex-husband of Timmie's nursing colleagues is ashed by arson, Timmie and Dan combine efforts to dig and delve into malfeasance past and present. Some of the lesser lights in the medical hierarchy get scrutiny: Raymond's partner, a lab geek who examines the brains of the deceased Alzheimer patients; Raymond's chic executive aide; and a gaggle of closemouthed nurses. Before the denouement, Dan's assaulted; Timmie's run off the road; and there are threats and more murders. Timmie will also have her own crisis of love for a beloved parent. In time-honored fashion, all ends with a fire and rough justice.

Filled with secrets and betrayals, solid medicine, smart-aleck chat—and likable sleuths.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.46(w) x 9.56(h) x 1.43(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

If a person's ex-husband had to come into the ER where she worked, she'd probably want him to come in looking just like Billy Mayfield: pea green, sweating like a pig, and puking up sock lint.

Billy was even considerate enough to show up about eleven on a Sunday morning in October. That way, not only could his ex-wife enjoy his near-operatic distress, so could her coworkers.

The ER at Memorial Medical Center wasn't usually busy, because Puckett, Missouri, wasn't usually a busy place. Tucked along the southern bank of the Missouri River about ninety miles west of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the town consisted mostly of a bedroom community that balanced its economy on farming, river traffic, and the encroaching St. Louis suburbs.

Memorial Medical Center especially wasn't a busy place on Sunday morning, when the greater percentage of the town was still in church. Therefore the only problems occupying the staff of the emergency department were a brace of abdominal pains and a mother who needed her ten-year-old cured of his flu by the big hockey game the next day.

There was one dead body in room five, but he didn't demand much attention. He certainly didn't press the Call button or complain about the wait. A perfect guest with all the time in the world, which was a good thing, because his nurse had been waiting at least two hours for the coroner to call back so she could stamp Mr. Cleveland's morgue pass.

That was the bad news. The good news was that Butch Cleveland was Timmie Leary-Parker's only patient, which meant she could waste a little time on a phone call to her daughter.

"You ready for Mass, Meghan?" she asked, cleaning herstethoscope with an alcohol wipe as she talked. She was perched on a charting desk with her feet on a chair, the crumbs from her breakfast bagel still caught in her lab coat pockets.

"I already went, Mom," the six-year-old informed her in arch tones. "Grandda and I have been singing."

Timmie stopped rubbing. She heard the whoop of a siren in the ambulance entrance, but chose to ignore it. "Singing what?"

"'Spar-Strangled Banner.'"

"'Star-Spangled Banner,'" Timmie corrected in relief, knowing just what other tunes her father could have been sharing. "You watching baseball?"

"The Astros. Renfield doesn't like the Astros. He wants the Dodgers. We haven't seen the Dodgers since we left home."

Timmie smiled. "Renfield's a lizard, hon. Lizards don't get to vote."

"He is not a lizard. He's a Jackson's chameleon. And he lives here, too, now."

"Well, find a show on flies and grasshoppers, and we'll tape it for him, okay? California grasshoppers."

Timmie was rewarded by a bright giggle and another "Mo-o-om," which, for a six-year-old girl, said everything.

"Hee-e-e-elp me-e-e-e-e!"

Timmie looked up. The ambulance had evidently arrived, carrying what sounded for all the world like that little girl in The Exorcist. Definitely new business. Somebody else's, Timmie fervently hoped. Whoever it was was making retching noises, which Timmie hated more than anything but drunks and lawyers.

"Whoa, what's that?" Dr. Barbara Adkins demanded as she sauntered over with her lunch Mountain Dew in hand.

Timmie considered the hoarse wails that echoed off the tiled walls like reverb at a rock concert. "Hangover," she said.

"What hangover?" Meghan demanded in Timmie's ear.

"Nah," Barb said, dropping into one of the other chairs and draining half the can in one gulp. "Childbirth."

"Hog caller with a kidney stone," Timmie countered.

"Mo-o-om," Meghan intoned with marginal patience. "You were talking to me?"

Timmie focused on her daughter. "Yes, I was, baby. In fact, I was just about to ask you if you had your room cleaned, so you can go to the horse show with me this afternoon."

"After I write Daddy, for when he finds us."

"We're not lost, honey," Timmie reminded her. She didn't add that it was Meghan's dad who was lost, or that given enough time he'd remember to look for them. Probably any minute now, considering how badly Timmie's week was already going.

"He-e-e-e-e-el-p . . . "

"If I'm any judge of tonal qualities," Barb observed laconically as she lobbed her empty can toward the trash, "he's in room three. Wonder who's gonna get him?"

"New patient, room three," the intercom promptly announced. "Timmie Leary-Parker, room three."

The can hit the bucket with a clang for a three-pointer and Timmie sighed. "Of course."

Two years ago, Timmie had been married to an up-and-coming Los Angeles lawyer, mother of a beautiful preschooler, and employed as forensic and trauma nurse at the busiest gun-and-knife club in the country. Now she was divorced from a cocaine addict, her daughter was best friends with a reptile, and her career was reduced to puke patrol in a stop-and-go ER outside St. Louis. Was life wonderful or what?

"Okay," she capitulated. "Will somebody put out yet another call to the coroner about Mr. Cleveland? I know he's dead, but that doesn't mean he should have to put up with all that noise. In the meantime, as soon as I get off the phone with Meghan, I guess I'll be in doing the spew samba." Brain Dead. Copyright © by Eileen Dreyer. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Elizabeth George
"Skin-crawling suspense."
Tami Hoag

Meet the Author

New York Times bestselling author Eileen Dreyer has been inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame, nominated for the Anthony Award and is a retired trauma nurse. Also trained in forensic nursing and death investigation, Eileen doesn't see herself actively working in those fields, unless this writing thing doesn't pan out.

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Brain Dead 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent read for this 20+ yr ICU, ER retired RN. Loved it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really, really wish the author hadn't tried so hard to put humor into this book. It spoiled so many of the pages. The story of Timmie struggling with her father's Alzheimer's disease, trying to make a good life for her daughter, and the job at the hospital as everyday stresses, along with the mysteries of deaths in the small town would have been, and almost was, a great book. Too bad she tried to be funny..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very bad story. Main character is a woman with a man's name which makes it very difficult to understand if its a man or woman at first, then the ex-husband changes name, things jumps around so much you dont what the heck is going on. I made it past pg 145 and gave up in sheer frustration.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hard to relate to the characters and to follow storyline. Had promise; didn't deliver.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
1Star Review from SDCexy This book was too SLOW, a LONG drawn out story, NOT enjoyable at all! SDCexy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Forensic nurse Timmie Leary-Parker has moved from Los Angeles to her Missouri hometown to care for her aging father, a local legend. The local police and the coroner are inclined to look away when men in the prime of life die suddenly and only a few weeks apart. When gunshots are fired at a charity event, no one seems to be interested in pursuing the gunman. Timmie begins to suspect that there is something wrong with the deaths at the local hospital. Is there a serial killer in little Puckett, Mo.? Are there multiple people literally getting away with murder? Timmie teams up with a reporter who has seen better days in an attempt to find out what is going on. The title of the book is misleading. It is difficult to distinguish some of the minor characters, and there are a couple plot incidents which go nowhere. This book will keep you guessing. You may be tempted to read the whole thing in one sitting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book starts out slow and never picks up. Lots of characters, who make the entire book confusing. One of the worst books that I have ever read. I only finished itbecause I refuse to leave a book half finished.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It kept me guessing to the end! Great plot development, interesting characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good plot and story. I enjoyed this book.
MoRWAReviewsSTL More than 1 year ago
Timmy Leary-Parker returned home to raise her daughter away from her drug addict ex-husband in a smaller town than Los Angeles. As a forensic nurse expected to help modernize Memorial Hospital she should have had an easy path, especially as the daughter of the revered Joe Leary. Instead she has to deal with a lazy coroner, murdered ex-husband’s of the Suckered Sister Sorority, old patients from Restcrest dropping like flies, and her dad spiraling downward with Alzheimer’s.  Daniel Murphy is an award winning reporter that hopes he can slow down in Puckett, Missouri and just hide from everyone. At a charity horse event he spots Timmy Leary-Parker strong arm a shooter that the police don’t want to find after he tried to shoot the founder of the local cash cow Restcrest. Neither Timmy nor Daniel want to get involved, but with the police sweeping all the deaths under the rug they have no choice but to dive in and stop the killings before the killer stops them. Eileen Dreyer weaves a mystery involving two people who have every reason not to help find the truth, but throws obstacles in their path that would have lesser beings heading for the closest airport out of town. Her descriptions paint an enthralling adventure that leaves you guessing who really did what. A must read that will have new readers flocking to Ms. Dreyer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good mystery. Guessed who the killer was about the middle of the book. Took away one star for bad language, the other star for being poorly written. Kathy
otterly More than 1 year ago
Timmie Ann--weird name--moves back to Puckett, Missouri where her aging father lives. She is a forensic nurse who wants to become the coroner. Various things surface as to the way the "gomers" or rather soon to be dead patients are treated. We all know that growing old is no picnic--this points it out even more. This might make a good book discussion topic.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not as good as some reviews, but not as bad as others. Does keep you guessing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The storyline had possibilities but the author tried, MUCH too forcefully, to inject snarky witticism into every page...it was annoying and, ultimately, pathetic. The malicious joy and subtlety of TRUE snark is painfully beyond this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too many characters and too much going on to keep up with.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book kept me up all night.
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