Over the Edgeby Brandilyn Collins
Torn from the front lines of medical debate and the author's own experience with Lyme Disease, Over the Edge is riveting fiction, full of twists and turns—and powerful truths about today's medical field.
Janessa McNeil’s husband, Dr. Brock McNeil, a researcher and professor at Stanford University's Department of Medicine,/i>… See more details below
Torn from the front lines of medical debate and the author's own experience with Lyme Disease, Over the Edge is riveting fiction, full of twists and turns—and powerful truths about today's medical field.
Janessa McNeil’s husband, Dr. Brock McNeil, a researcher and professor at Stanford University's Department of Medicine, specializes in tick-borne diseases—especially Lyme. For years he has insisted that Chronic Lyme Disease doesn't exist. Even as patients across the country are getting sicker, the committee Brock chairs is about to announce its latest findings—which will further seal the door shut for Lyme treatment.
One embittered man sets out to prove Dr. McNeil wrong by giving him a close-up view of the very disease he denies. The man infects Janessa with Lyme, then states his demand: convince her husband to publicly reverse his stand on Lyme—or their young daughter will be next.
But Janessa's marriage is already rocky. She's so sick she can hardly move or think. And her husband denies she has Lyme at all.
Welcome to the Lyme wars, Janessa.
" . . . a taut, heartbreaking thriller . . . Collins is a fine writer who knows how to both horrify readers and keep them turning pages. She'll gain new readers with this one . . ."
"Over the Edge provides validation to any person who suffers from the long-term effects of Lyme Disease. While the story is based on Ms. Collins' own life experience, she builds a tense and dramatic novel that illustrates how a person can fall into the web of misdiagnosis and ineffective treatment."
New York Journal of Books
"This book stayed with me long after I put it down. Not only was it a page-turner, but the storyline about Lyme Disease was fascinating and eye-opening. I think Over the Edge will raise awareness about this horrible disease, and validate those who suffer with it."
Terri Blackstock, author of Predator and Intervention
"A frightening and all-too-real scenario. Very timely and meaningful book." (4 stars)
RT Book Reviews
"Over the Edge is an excellent mystery. [It] actively portrays the patient with the myriad symptoms seen in acute or chronic Lyme."
Dr. Nick S. Harris, president/CEO, IGeneX, Inc.
"Brandilyn Collins continues to impress . . . From start to finish, Over the Edge is a fantastic, multi-faceted novel."
The Christian Manifesto
"Five stars! Highly recommended: A real life witch-hunt scarier than any vampire or zombie tale . . . the parts of the book laying out spiritual phenomena were excellent, indeed among the best I've read."
Your Shelf Life
"Thrilling medical suspense . . . Over the Edge pits science against truth and will render readers shocked at what they learn."
"Deep characters, an amazing plot . . . an absolute must read."
Read Great Fiction
"In this thrilling tale of vengeance . . . the pace is relentless, the suspense ramping up to greater levels as the pages fly by."
"The suspense is great! Reading a fictional tale about what every maligned, marginalized, and misunderstood Lyme patient has dreamt about in their darkest hours is such a huge mental come-uppance . . . a novel that hits a bull's eye in safely channeling the frustrations of the entire community of Lyme patients."
"This is my first Collins book; however it won't be my last! Her warm writing, true-to-life characterizations, compelling plot lines and taut suspense have made me a fan!"
The Suspense Zone
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Read an Excerpt
OVER THE EDGE
By Brandilyn Collins
B&H Publishing GroupCopyright © 2011 Brandilyn Collins
All right reserved.
Chapter One* THE NIGHTMARES FELT SO REAL.
I'd been sick for three weeks. Aching limbs, sore joints, a weakness in my legs. An odd pain shot around in my chest. The back of my neck hurt, radiating clear up to my skull. A nuchal headache, Brock would call it, referring to the back neck muscle. A term I'd never heard until I married a doctor.
Most likely I had some strange lingering flu. A virus had been going around this spring season, although no one seemed to have symptoms like mine.
Then a few days ago the bad dreams started. Horrible scenes of a bug-eyed man standing over my bed. "Does flu ever make you have nightmares?" I asked Brock yesterday as he prepared to leave for work. We stood in the kitchen. He was flipping through papers in his briefcase, searching for something.
He looked up distractedly, his thick brows knitting. The lines between his dark brown eyes deepened. "Never heard that one before."
At 6'2" Brock stood a head taller than I. He'd spent years concerned with the health of others—and the stress showed on his face. At fifty-three to my thirty-six, he looked older than his age but still so handsome. So alive and vibrant and strong. As he expected me to be.
"This isn't what Lyme feels like, is it?" Of all people, my husband would know.
He sifted through more documents, too busy to make eye contact with me. "When would you have been bitten by a deer tick?"
We hadn't been hiking or spending time in the woods. And I was mostly a homebody. "I've been planting flowers." Our house boasted a large, beautiful backyard. Behind us lay open space with plenty of trees. Sometimes the deer jumped the fence and wrought havoc with my plants.
He waved a hand, then snapped his briefcase shut. "Let's give it a few days. If you're not better, we can test for it."
Quintessential Brock. Whatever the situation, including illness—buck up, raise your chin, and this, too, shall pass. That rock hard core strength is what had first attracted me to him. Goodness knows I'd needed some strength of my own in those days.
Now I yearned for gentleness.
We'd met when I was twenty-two, a glued-together version of emotionally broken pieces despite my academic success: a B.A. in marketing, valedictorian of my class. As we dated, Brock wedged bits of his unwavering self-confidence into the gaps I failed to hide. He taught me to believe in myself—because he did. Bathed in love, his shaping of me never felt harsh.
But in the last year my husband had slipped from attentive to distracted to aloof. Why? I was no less the wife I'd always been. In fact lately I felt like the old Avis rental car commercial—"we try harder." Brock didn't seem to notice my extra effort.
Our conversation yesterday ended as quickly as it started. With a tight smile aimed in my direction, Brock disappeared out the door to the garage.
I rubbed my neck. Last night I had the nightmare again. This morning I awoke feeling five times worse. No flu had ever hit me like this.
Not a good time to deal with a phone call from my mother. But then, it never was. She'd called a few minutes ago, and now I wished I hadn't answered. I moved the receiver to my other ear.
"You get your housecleaning done today?" Mother's voice held that barbed edge I knew so well—half accusation, half sarcasm. Why did I even bother to talk to her? The woman never changed. "Thursday is your day to clean."
I lay on the TV room couch, looking toward the pass-through window into the kitchen. I'd had to move from the other end of the sofa. Facing toward the bright front window hurt my eyes. "Yes, I did." Somehow I'd managed to clean, even though I felt so punky. As soon as I was done I collapsed on the couch and had barely moved since.
"That husband of yours would notice if the house wasn't spotless."
My fingers tightened on the phone—until pain forced them to relax. That husband of mine happened to be successful and stable, a one-eighty from my alcoholic and abusive father. My mother could not forgive me for that.
"Why don't you hire a housecleaner, Janessa? You can certainly afford it."
"I'd rather do it myself. Then I know it's done right."
"Well, you always were the perfectionist."
My heart cramped. A perfectionist should be able to fix her own marriage. "I have to go, Mother."
"And do what? You're sick, remember?"
"I have to pick up Lauren soon."
"How's she doing?"
My mother's tone made the question's real meaning all too clear: I haven't seen my granddaughter in years, so how would I know?
"Isn't she supposed to be out of school for the year soon?"
"Not until the middle of June."
"Then what's she going to do?"
"Be a kid. Hang out, have friends over."
Like I could never do.
"We were good parents to you, Janessa."
My eyes closed. How did my mother do that?
I'd managed to move across the country from my parents years ago, before I met Brock. At this moment the connection to my mother amounted to no more than a tenuous link through invisible phone lines. Or so I told myself. I should hang up. Refuse to answer when she called back.
Truth is, the link between mother and daughter is never so tenuous, even when you want it to be. Even when you know the woman's poison for you. There is no more sacred bond, and when it's broken, defiled, it leaves a cleft in your heart never quite filled.
Although Brock had come closest to filling it as any person could.
Someday soon my mother might hear the dullness in my voice over the phone and guess the expanding new truth about me and Brock. "This paradise of yours will never last," she'd sneered the day of my wedding. How self-satisfied she'd be now to hear of the cracks in our Eden.
"I never said you weren't good parents, Mother."
"You didn't have to."
Enough was enough. I forced myself to sit up. I felt so tired. "I need to go."
I clicked off the line.
For a long moment I slumped forward, forearms on my legs, still holding the receiver. Its digital read-out told me the time—2:30. I needed to be at Lauren's private school at 3:00. The drive would take fifteen minutes. I would not be late, not even by sixty seconds. In my own childhood I'd spent far too many hours waiting on my mother—who may or may not show up, depending on my father's level of drunkenness. I had grown up dreaming of my own happy marriage someday, of secure children. Lauren would never be treated as I had been.
I replaced the phone in its holder and pushed to my feet. For a moment I swayed. Man. What was this? I arched my shoulders and moved my achy neck from side to side. Maybe two more extra-strength pain relievers would help.
I stepped away from the couch and headed for the kitchen, chiding myself for resting too long. Now I'd be pressed to make dinner on time. The roast needed to slow cook in the oven, and I hadn't cut the potatoes, onions, and carrots. Brock expected his dinner at six thirty. Or whenever after that he happened to come through the door.
My legs felt wobbly as I walked to the stainless steel sink. I gazed down at the defrosted roast. Okay. First a large pan ...
My eyes fixed on the piece of meat. I stared at the red hunk until I looked through it. My thoughts splayed out ...
I hung there. Hands on the sink.
What was I ...?
I crossed the kitchen to a lower cabinet, where I'd have to reach far into the back. Started to bend down.
Don't do it.
I stopped. Made a face at myself. What was that voice in my brain?
My hand reached out again. A knowledge deep inside protested that my legs wouldn't hold me.
Air puffed from my mouth. How silly. My legs were a little weak, that's all. Besides, I had no choice. Dinner required this particular pan, and that was that.
I bent over, opened the cabinet and crouched down.
My legs gave out. Down I went—hard—on my rear end. Pain ricocheted through my shoulders and neck.
Stunned, I sat on the floor, palms flat against the hardwood. After a minute I shook my head. Okay, so I'd fallen. While I was on the floor, I'd at least get the pan. I scooted close to the cabinet, leaned in and withdrew it from the top shelf. I lifted the pan and slid it onto the counter. Closed the cabinet door.
Now to get up.
Twisting to one side, I placed both hands close to each other. Pushed against the floor. My legs wouldn't cooperate. I tried again, managing to work my way onto my knees. My leg muscles felt squishy.
Well now really. This was dumb.
I lifted one knee, positioning a foot beneath my body. Pushed off from the floor—and tumbled over. My head bounced against the cabinet.
"Ungh." I lay on my side, mouth open, my annoyance turning to fear. What was happening? I had to get up.
I tried again. And again. Didn't work. Sweat popped out on my body. I couldn't believe this. My arms felt strong enough, though the joints hurt. But my legs just wouldn't ...
Once more I tried to rise. And failed.
Excerpted from OVER THE EDGE by Brandilyn Collins Copyright © 2011 by Brandilyn Collins. Excerpted by permission of B&H Publishing Group. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. Awards for her novels include the ACFW Book of the Year (three times), Inspirational Readers' Choice, and Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice. Also, The Writer magazine named her nonfiction release, Getting Into Character, one of the best books on writing published in 2002. When she's not writing, Brandilyn can be found teaching the craft of fiction at writers' conferences. She and her family divide their time between homes in the California Bay Area and northern Idaho.
Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. Awards for her novels include the ACFW Book of the Year (three times), Inspirational Readers' Choice, and Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice. Also, The Writer magazine named her nonfiction release, Getting Into Character, one of the best books on writing published in 2002.
When she's not writing, Brandilyn can be found teaching the craft of fiction at writers' conferences. She and her family divide their time between homes in the California Bay Area and northern Idaho.
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I have chronic Lyme disease - I see MY doctors in this novel, they think you are crazy! Gosh if only mainstream medical would LISTEN!
Janessa is married to a highly respected research physician named Brock McNeil. He's a Lyme Disease researcher. He doesn't believe in chronic Lyme Disease. He believes that patients should be healed after four weeks of antibiotics. When Janessa is not feeling well for three weeks, she asks Brock if she could be infected with Lyme Disease. He thinks it's nonsense. They haven't been in the woods or anywhere else where ticks can be found. What Janessa and Brock don't know is that a couple of months earlier a man broke into their house and left three ticks in Janessa's hair. Janessa will soon learn what the man did when he calls her on her cell phone. He explains what he did and that now she is infected with Lyme Disease and coinfections too. In a couple of days Janessa must convince Brock to make a statement that chronic Lyme Disease does exist, or else the secret man will infect their 9-year old daughter too. A race against time! Brock does not believe Janessa. She's on her own. Her body is hurting terribly. She is immensly tired. She can not think clear. Can not find the right words. But she must convince Brock. Or is there another way to make a public statement? This book is full of valuable information about Lyme Disease. You get a good idea how Janessa must be feeling. Lyme Disease is the subject of this book, but this wouldn't be a Brandilyn Collins novel if there wasn't suspense and mystery. I literally sat on the edge of my seat a good couple of times. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know what it's like to live with Lyme Disease, or to anyone who knows someone with this disease.
This is another fantastic book by Ms. Collins. This book is about being infected with Lyme disease—those parts of the book are factual. Intertwined with the Lyme disease is a very well written suspenseful story. It is a wonderful mystery that is very difficult to put down. Do not plan on getting much sleep after you pick this book up. This book description was taken from Amazon.com—“Janessa McNeil's husband, Dr. Brock McNeil, a researcher and professor at Stanford University's Department of Medicine, specializes in tick-borne diseases--especially Lyme. For years he has insisted that Chronic Lyme Disease doesn't exist. Even as patients across the country are getting sicker, the committee Brock chairs is about to announce its latest findings--which will further seal the door shut for Lyme treatment.” “One embittered man sets out to prove Dr. McNeil wrong by giving him a close-up view of the very disease he denies. The man infects Janessa with Lyme, then states his demand: convince her husband to publicly reverse his stand on Lyme--or their young daughter will be next.” As with all Ms. Collins’ books this is another page turner. It is also interesting to note that Ms. Collins has suffered with Lyme disease herself. I received a copy of this book from bookfun.org in exchange for an honest review.
If you're looking to read a suspense filled novel with medical background and research, jaw dropping surprises, and heart pounding action, this is your book. Jannie is married to Brock, a research doctor studying Lyme disease and its effect on the body. A lunatic breaks into their house one night while Brock is not there and places an infected tick in Jannie's scalp while she sleeps. Then he starts calling her and terrorizing her with threats of what he's going to do to her 9 year old daughter. He wants her husband to recant his research of the disease being acute not chronic. Brock thinks she's making all this up to get back at him. The author has personally experienced Lyme disease and was able to vividly describe the symptoms Jannie was having. In Jannie's case, a very debilitating sickness. This book was a complete edge of my seat, page turner. Seventy five percent of the way through I was thrown for a loop with what the author brought out and that was only the beginning! Very suspenseful, very entertaining, and very well written. I was able to finish this in a very short time because I couldn't put it down. I received this ebook from the author through Bookfun.org for my honest review which I have given.
I started reading this book and could not stop! It's fast paced, twists and turns, and emotional roller coaster had me glued to the pages. As a nurse it is always very interesting to see health topics discussed but this is a whole other level. I had no idea what The Lyme Wars were till reading this book. You will feel emotional and overwhelmed about the plight that these individuals with this disease are going through even today. Janessa McNeil's life is about to become a race for her life. She is married to Dr. Brook McNeil who is a professor at Standford that specializes in tick borne diseases especially Lyme. He is admit that Chronic Lyme Disease is all in people's heads and doesn't exist. Let's just say he doesn't have a fan club waiting for his autograph! He has many people that hate him and has one man that has taken it upon himself to make Dr McNeil pay for not believing. This man sneaks into Dr McNeil's house and while his wife is sleeping places infected ticks on her and gives her Lyme disease. This turns Janessa's world upside down. So not only is his wife sick the crazy man is threatening to infect their daughter. Janessa will need all the help and her faith in God to get through. She has ups and downs but knows in the end God will not leave her. When her husband denies that she has Lyme and says she is faking she will need God more than ever to save her and her daughter. This book grabs you from the first chapter and doesn't let go. Be ready for the psychological ride of your life. I recieved this book from The BookClub Network for an honest review.
Eyes of Elisha was a great book. I loved the subject matter on the back of the book and couldn’t wait to read it. Definitely made me want to read the next one in the series. I love the suspense/mystery that Ms. Collins is so great at writing. I received this book for free from The Book Club Network and the author in exchange for my honest review.
This story kept me on the edge of the seat. I real enjoy books by Brandilyn Collins.
For a high-rev book of suspense, revenge, and debilitating suffering, Brandilyn has brought a new level of intrigue in her book, Over the Edge. It¿s a story about the ¿Lyme wars¿¿the majority of doctors not believing it¿s chronic, i.e., Janessa McNeil¿s husband, Dr. Brock McNeil; the doctors that are Lyme-literate; and ultimately, the Lyme patients still suffering and dying. To force Dr. Brock McNeil to recant his stand publicly on Lyme, a deeply crazed, resentful man deliberately infects Janessa with Lyme, using several ticks smaller than a period (.) at the end of sentence, to expose him to the debilitating disease process. What the man didn¿t count on was the McNeil¿s rocky marital status, leaving little leverage for Janessa to change her husband¿s viewpoint. Problem was, this man planned to infect their daughter, Lauren, if the good Dr. wouldn¿t change his mind. The story rests on the exhausting, crippling sickness of Janessa, the threatening phone calls, and her cold, callous, unbelieving husband. It¿s unbelievable that a disease can be so devastating. The everyday activities most take for granted, become excruciatingly difficult and sometimes impossible for her. Brandilyn poured her heart and soul into the descriptive ramifications of the disease. They take on a life of their very own. You¿re fighting to breathe right along with Janessa during her ¿air hunger.¿ The fear is palpable. The danger is real. Yet through it all, as a new Christian, Janessa has to make a choice to trust God to work out the whole situation as she is extremely physically disabled. She basks in the truths she finds in the Psalms that lift her spirit and keep her hoping. She can¿t control the stalker or her straying husband, but God can handle both. He wants to do the same in your life. If you have loved ones or friends (even possibly yourself) with Lyme, encourage them and invest your life in them as much as possible. Even be willing to advocate for them where possible. Don¿t be afraid to talk candidly with your doctor, possibly even taking the information provided by Brandilyn. The door to receiving treatment is still shut for many suffering from Lyme. This is a disease everyone must take seriously, as the repercussions are enormous. This book was provided by B&H Fiction in exchange for my honest review. No monetary compensation was exchanged.
I enjoyed this book and read it in 2 days. It was very suspenseful and also taught me about Lyme disease.
I read this book on the recommendation of my cousin who has Lyme and is trying to get his life back. Even if you have no knowledge of Lyme this book will engage you. Brandilyn Collins writing absorbs the reader into the story ,you really feel the desperation of the main character. I found that I couldn't put this book down. I needed to know what would happen next. A must read!!!!
Brandilyn Collins' novels are touted as 'seatbelt suspense', and Over The Edge is no exception, with a unique twist. Jannie McNeil is the wife of a renowned Lyme disease specialist. Or at least, what he calls Lyme-according to the CDC's incredibly narrow definition. Brock McNeil is vocal in speaking out against those who say they suffer from chronic Lyme, something he doesn't believe exists. Enter a bipolar man whose wife died from chronic Lyme and you have a recipe for a dramatic story that puts the life of Brock McNeil's wife and daughter in danger. Soon Jannie McNeil falls incredibly ill with Lyme. But does Doctor Brock rush to her aid? No. He thinks she's faking. I'll let you discover the ins and outs for yourself. If you want to read a story about a man who realizes everything he believes is wrong, you need to prepare yourself. If you want a story with a nice, typical (cheesy, boring) ending, you need to prepare yourself also. Because this book will twist you up and spin you around. Dramatic, and eye-opening, Over The Edge could easily be a True Story. All the stuff about the CDC, the medical insurance companies, the doctors who advocate either for or against chronic Lyme-it's all true. And Brandilyn Collins knows it, because she lived it. Yes, I'm jumping on the band-wagon, (not because I met Ms. Collins at a Writers' Conference in February 2011, and she's a super nice lady). ? But because this book is just that compelling. You really feel for Jannie as you watch her whole life systematically fall apart at the worst possible time. It's like everything bad that could happen, all happens simultaneously. By the end of act 1 I was thoroughly hooked. I've read someone call that feeling a 'PB&J night', because there's no way I'm putting this book down to make dinner. I'll remorselessly let them suffer reheating their own leftovers because my stomach is clenched, and my fingers flipping pages to find out what happens next. The plot looks like a pretzel, and the characters will provoke in you at once both devotion and abject hatred because he's so stupid he doesn't realize what he's throwing away. But the one who steals your heart is the daughter, Lauren. "Lauren plumped out her lips. "I see strange people every day. I'm in fourth grade."" In portraying the way it feels to have chronic Lyme, Collins doesn't go overboard so you're left thinking, 'okay, I get it, it sucks to have Lyme'. It's a realistic presentation because of Collins' own experience. There's no research that can replace the intimate knowledge that comes from actually having had the disease. "Against the floor my cane made a hollow, indignant sound. The sound of my heart. My life." "My brain was nothing but a hole-riddled pan trying to hold water." Over The Edge uses a mix of first person (for the protagonist), and third person (for the police detective, and the antagonist), sounds weird, but it absolutely works. In fact, I found myself able to delve into Jannie's mind faster when I got to first person. Then when it switched with a scene or chapter break it made the bad guy's scene more eerie, because of the jolt. Bad language: None. Violence: a personal attack in the form of grabbing and shaking the person, and a gun-shot that kills. Neither explicit or overly gory. Sexual content: implied in relationships, but nothing 'on camera'.
A man wearing night goggles breaks into the home of Jessica McNeil. But he isn't there to attack or rob her. He infects her with Lyme disease. From that moment on the reader's plunged into the world of a Lyme disease patient, experiencing Jessica's excruciating pain and helplessness. Jessica's left alone to deal with the seemingly insurmountable illness, because the medical profession refuses to help. That's the reason she was targeted. Brock McNeil, her husband and renowned researcher / professor, has convinced the medical world that chronic Lyme disease doesn't exist. The man who infected Jessica wants to make sure Brock knows it does. While fighting Lyme disease, Jessica also watches her family fall apart. Brock's leaving for another woman, and now that Jessica can no longer care for their daughter, because of a disease Brock claims is just in her head, he's taking the daughter too. Who will help Jessica when she gets threatening notes from the man who broke into her home and infected her? Who will believe her when her husband claims these events are a figment of her imagination? I highly recommend Over the Edge. Ms. Collins includes enough information to make the book authentic and enlightening, but not more than a sensitive reader can handle. She balances Jessica's illness, a mystery and family heartache to weave a suspenseful masterpiece. As a Lyme disease patient, I would like to have seen explored, or at least mentioned, the tremendous help for this disease available from alternative medicine. From Dr. David Lee I learned that a patient must eliminate the toxins created by Lyme bacteria to return to good health. He says, "In some countries what we consider alternative medicine is traditional." In the case of Lyme disease, I highly recommend this option.
If you like learning while reading a gripping suspense story, this book is for you! The characters are well-formed, the plot is a real page-turner, the mystery holds the reader in suspense throughout the novel until the stunning finish, and important lessons are taught. Through the reading, I learned about a disease I had only before heard about: Lyme. Brandilyn Collins has lived with Lyme disease and knows it first hand. She proves herself an excellent teacher as well as top-notch author. She includes her extensive research, by incorporating it into this engrossing tale. Fittingly, May is Lyme Disease Month. Folks, be sure to read this one! Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and B&H Books for my copy.
Brandilyn Collins combines her genius suspense with her desire to heighten awareness of Lyme Disease. Absolutely amazing! The story is rivoting, the ending is surprising and the education is comprehensive. I've never read a book like this. Out of a possible 5 stars, I rate this at 10! You MUST read this book!