The year is 2021, and abortion is illegal in the United States. A young, unidentified female is found dead from an alleged "termination" in an abandoned tenement. The girl is identified as the daughter of a conservative, right-wing senator.
Overturned! takes an extremely controversial issue and wraps it in fiction. The novel attempts to answer the question, "What if?" and finds that we should be very careful what we ask for, as we may actually get it.
Overturned! does not take a moral position but unravels the complicated emotions humans face when personally dealing with such issues. A senator who helped outlaw abortion is faced with the devastating news that his only daughter died from an illegal termination. As the case is investigated, we find that love is the ultimate factor in transcending all political, religious, and social opinions.
Overturned! is a political thriller that combines the business of politics, social reform, and conspiracy into a story that brings us full circle on the issue of reproductive rights.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.62(d)|
Read an Excerpt
By A. Raynor
Balboa PressCopyright © 2012 A. Raynor
All right reserved.
Chapter One"She's dying!"
"She is not dying. She is merely hemorrhaging. Let's go."
"We can't go! We can't leave her like this! She paid us, and we killed her!"
"Relax. A simple call to 911 from the pay phone on the corner and help will be on the way. Now let's go!"
"I really think we should take her to the hospital! We can leave her on the curb. She really doesn't look good! I don't think there's time to wait!"
"We can't take her to the hospital! Need I remind you that abortion is illegal in this country?! I am not about to risk a double murder rap. Now help me clean up so we can make the call!"
He calmly collected the tools and soiled sheets, shoving them into the black garbage bag. His assistant was too far gone to be of any practical use. This didn't surprise him in the least. There were two types of people in the world, leaders and followers. Followers were ignorant and weak, rarely any help in a time of crisis. He figured he would have to take this situation into his own hands and move as quickly as possible. With any luck, they would be out of there in a minute or two. The girl would be fine once the ambulance arrived. As for what the authorities would do once they realized she had terminated was not his affair—her mistake would be her problem. If she didn't want a child, she should not have become pregnant! On some level he really didn't care whether she lived or died——it seemed appropriate that God should decide her fate. Whatever the outcome, he was satisfied. Five thousand dollars for one hour's work was definitely worth the risk!
He surveyed the room one last time, grabbed his muttering assistant by the collar, and left the abandoned house. They quickly loaded the blue Buick, drove to the corner, placed an anonymous call to 911, and sped off.
She died before they left the house.
Chapter TwoShe stared out the window overlooking Broadway in the theater district. It was her favorite café, allowing her a quick bite, great cappuccino, and a seat by the window. She used to hate eating alone, but after nearly eight years as an agent, she was finally used to it. Actually, she now preferred it—no conversation was needed, just her thoughts or the comfort of "people watching." She would stare out the window enjoying the antics on the street, giving her overactive mind a break. In New York, you could always count on a good show if you stopped long enough to watch, especially on Broadway, where the neon lights created a carnival effect. Her cell phone vibrated as soon as her sandwich arrived. Looking at the LCD panel, she knew she would not be eating. After a brief hesitation, she answered the call.
"Gina Vincent here. What's up?"
"Agent Vincent, this is Brooklyn Dispatch. We have a homicide in an abandoned house downtown. We believe it's a failed termination. Can you get out there?"
"Downtown Brooklyn," she said, looking at her watch and calculating. "I'm in Midtown, and it will be at least forty minutes for me to get through the tunnel. Ask them to keep things tight until I can get there—I'll be about an hour."
"I'm sure that will be fine. The local precinct was clear—they can't handle the caseload, so they will be more than patient in waiting for you."
"Tell them I'm on the way."
She hung up, paid her bill, grabbed her sandwich for the ride, and left her coffee on the table. She knew she didn't have to rush. The cops had given up trying to handle the workload. Abortion had been illegal for only six months before the caseload surpassed their ability to investigate, prosecute, and house the incredible number of female convicts. Still, it was nearly fifteen years since 2006 when Roe v. Wade had been overturned, so why was the caseload still so high? You would think after all this time they would just have their babies and give them up for adoption. The risk of prison or death due to black market abortions seemed far worse than simply bearing the child. Being unmarried, never pregnant, and nearly thirty years old, she thought maybe she just couldn't relate. Whether she understood it or not just didn't matter; this was her job, and she did it extremely well.
For as long as Gina Vincent could remember, she had wanted to be a federal investigator. She was only ten years old on 9/11, but the images, forever burned in her memory, still called to her. Her heroes were the firefighters, police, and Port Authority personnel who raced, without hesitation, into the buildings to save others, with little concern for their own welfare. She recalled the details in her mind as clear as the Tuesday morning it happened.
She had been standing at the bus stop playing tag with her friend Lisa, noting the bright blue sky and the faint but unmistakable smell of fall. They arrived at school at 8:50 a.m., the same time they arrived every day, which put them there after the first plane had hit but before the second plane did. As they took their seats, she thought it bizarre that the teachers were clustered around the counter in the front office. Her own teacher arrived and appeared preoccupied when class started at 9:05. By 9:30 the students knew that something was up, because the teachers looked wild. They could feel the tension, or was it panic—hard to tell—but it was something. They whispered to one another in the halls, with very concerned faces, shaking, nodding, and then running off to the next faculty member. Finally, after the collapse of the towers, it was too serious for them to hold back any longer. All students were to report to the cafeteria for an impromptu assembly. By this time, parents were inexplicably and suddenly picking up their children. Gina remembered at least six of her classmates were pulled from class before 10:00 a.m. Her own parents arrived at 12:30, after they had had a chance to relieve themselves from work and emotionally pull themselves together (at least according to her mother's memory of the day). Any student who had not been picked up by a parent was hand-delivered to a family member. The plan was simple—a teacher would be on each bus ensuring the student arrived home to family or friends. In some cases, the worst was true; both parents had perished, requiring the school to access emergency contacts.
By 1:00 p.m. that Tuesday afternoon, Gina's family was able to locate every family member working in New York City. Phone lines were jammed as each person called an "impromptu network" of family to ensure they knew all were safe, with each call ending in tears of relief. Gina's family entered what she liked to remember as "lockdown." The only calls her mother made were to clients who needed her help or to neighbors who were looking for loved ones.
Gina could still see the despair on her father's face and the tears in her mother's eyes as they struggled with their grief. Her mother didn't get out of her pajamas for nearly a week, while her father stayed home from work muttering how things just didn't seem to matter. They were stuck in a virtual vacuum—all of the New York tri-state area was. People were either guilt-ridden for surviving or overwhelmed with grief for those who had died. Not a person in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut was unaffected; everyone—and I mean everyone—knew someone who had lost someone.
In the ensuing days, the classmates who lost parents, the schoolteacher who lost her husband, the mother who lost her son became all too real. Gina's parents struggled to find their role in the aftermath, attending the services, donating to memorial funds, offering any support or aid they could in an effort to ease the pain of those who were grieving. It was an obligation that those spared would take on without question and would bear for the rest of their lives. If people lived in the geography, they felt it was their duty to remember and "fill in" for those who had paid the highest price for the freedom they had simply come to take for granted.
As Gina grew older, her feelings about the day intensified. For her the anniversary required her attention, her review of the details, her obsession with the stories and videos. How could the FBI not have known? How could they not speak the language? Federal investigators not trained in the beliefs, religion, or language of the criminals?! Surely knowing the criminal mind and lifestyle was necessary to bring them to justice. Gina knew she would be a federal investigator—one who would make a difference.
Her chance arrived when they established the new division in 2016. The Federal Bureau of Life Investigation became necessary after nearly ten years of failure to handle the abortion caseload. She would have preferred the standard FBI assignment allowing her the opportunity to protect her homeland, but the new division offered the opportunity for advancement. She was sworn in as an investigator for the Federal Bureau of Life Investigation on January 30, 2016, at the age of twenty-five. After five years, she still loved the position but had second thoughts about the assignment. It was difficult to arrest women—mostly young, impoverished girls—for aborting their pregnancies. Why couldn't they understand the consequence of their actions? Finding the abortionist, on the other hand, was an entirely different matter. Each arrest saved multiple lives, and after all, preserving life was what the law had in mind, wasn't it?
Her car stopped at the approach to the Battery Tunnel, and she knew she would be waiting awhile. The bridge may have been a better choice, but it was too late now; she would just have to wait. She was sitting in the middle of evening rush hour, and she couldn't do a damn thing about it. Once she was into Brooklyn, it would take only a few more minutes to reach the address dispatch had given her. Gina knew the neighborhood, mostly abandoned brownstones and dilapidated housing. Revitalization had begun during the early part of the new millennium, but it just never seemed to turn over. Crime was rampant in the area—prostitution, illegal gambling, drugs, and of course the business of termination. The lack of low-income housing, never addressed by any administration, allowed property values to continue to skyrocket. The poor had moved into worse living conditions than ever before. Squatters were prevalent in the abandoned factories, and drug houses were everywhere.
Finally, the traffic moved, and the tunnel opened up as if there were no reason for the holdup in the first place. As she looked at the brownstone-lined streets, she thought how pretty the neighborhood must have been when the homes were first built. She imagined a comfortable neighborhood teeming with a mix of immigrants, children playing stickball, vendors lining Third Avenue, and pushcarts moving down the streets. That would have been over one hundred years earlier, and time had worn the area down. She tried to remember the last time she had been in the neighborhood—it had to be over six months, and the place looked worse than ever.
She pulled up in front of an abandoned row-style colonial and studied the block. It looked like every other block downtown, with brownstones or row houses in varying stages of disrepair. She surveyed the patrol units parked in front of her and marveled at the crowd that would always gather at a crime scene. As she stepped out of her car, a sense of dread gripped her heart. Gina was not predisposed to premonitions, so her fear startled her. This call was going to be very different—she just didn't know why.
Chapter ThreeAs Gina approached the front door, she noted two squad cars and three police officers at the scene. A burly patrolman, Officer Kenny by his tag, stopped her at the door.
"Gina Vincent, federal investigator," she announced, flashing her identification.
"Oh, we've been waiting for you. We haven't touched her; looks as if this should be straightforward for you. She's lying in a pool of blood in what appears to be a back-alley termination. We figured we would wait for you before we dusted for prints."
"Thank you, Officer Kenny?" she said, squinting at his name tag.
"Sorry, yes, it's Officer Patrick Kenny. Let me take you inside." His cheeks blushed a bright red at the oversight of not introducing himself.
Gina immediately liked Officer Kenny. He didn't seem aggravated by her arrival and was quite accommodating. The local police did not really care for federal investigators, nor did they really care for the burden of the "illegal termination" workload. Every cop in the country would probably vote "pro-choice" if given the opportunity. They were losing hardened criminals and watching violent crimes increase due to their inability to investigate and respond sufficiently. He led her through an empty living room into the kitchen. The house looked as though it had been condemned. There were charred patches on the floor where a fire once burned to keep squatters warm. Rusted appliances and cabinets and murky brown trails where water and filth had built up lined two walls. The girl lay on the floor, nude from the waist down.
"How did you find her?"
A young patrolman with pale white skin answered, "Dispatch got a 911, we came out, and there she was." Staring at the floor, he continued, "I am Officer John Scott, and I was the first to find her. She is definitely not from this neighborhood. Avia sneakers, Ralph Lauren polo sport shirt, matching skirt heaped in the corner over there. Good skin, teeth, very clean."
Gina, observing him for the first time, realized he was a rookie. Only the rookies spent the time to really look at a scene, felt the emotion of a crime, and truly tried to make sense of it all. She couldn't remember the last time she met an officer who felt as strongly as Patrolman Scott did.
"Thank you, Officer. You seem to have completed a thorough investigation without disturbing the scene. I appreciate your detail. Has the skirt been moved?"
"No, but there is something underneath it, so you may want to start there," he said, pointing to the skirt. Her comments on his work made him feel good even though his heart squeezed in his body each time he looked at the girl.
Gina approached the corner where the skirt lay on the floor, but as she bent down to get a closer look, she saw the girl's face. Really saw her. The girl was beautiful. She hadn't noticed at first while she took down the observations of the young officer, but now that she really saw the girl, she couldn't believe how pretty she was. She had blond hair, green eyes, small features, and was about five foot seven and 125 pounds, with well-defined muscular legs and an overall athletic build. The sinking feeling in her stomach returned. This girl was not from this neighborhood and was maybe seventeen years old. Gina put on her gloves, bagged the skirt, and saw the wallet. It was a wallet/purse designed to hold a cell phone, credit cards, cash, and keys. Inside there was only student identification—New York University, Ashley Rydell.
"We have identification. She is a student at NYU. Her name is Ashley Rydell. Officer Scott, would you contact NYU and call me when you have reached the dean's office?"
"Sure thing, Agent Vincent. It will just take a minute." He went to the living room to make the call in private.
Gina looked at Officer Kenny. "What do you think, Pat?"
"I've personally seen at least a dozen in the last year, and it never gets any easier. Such a waste. This girl is leaving many broken hearts behind. I'm going to canvass any neighbors and finalize our report for you. I'll leave you to the business of notification," he said as he shuffled out of the kitchen. Men never seemed to handle these scenes very well. It was if they knew women reproduced but were never quite sure how.
Officer Scott returned with his phone, announcing the NYU dean's office. She took his handset and nodded an approval. "Gina Vincent, federal investigator. To whom am I speaking?" Jotting down a name in her notes, she continued, "I have some inquiries in reference to one of your students. I will need you to confirm her student information for me. Do you have an Ashley Rydell enrolled?"
Gina's face paled, and her knuckles whitened. "No, I understand. Yes, please plan to meet me within the hour. I will be able to explain the nature of the incident when I get there. Thank you," she said as she blankly stared at the phone in her hand.
"Agent Vincent, are you okay? Can I help you with anything?" Officer Scott stammered as he took his phone.
"Seems as if we are going to have our hands full. Miss Rydell was the daughter of Senator George Rydell of Illinois. The same Senator Rydell who sponsored the pro-life movement. Officer Scott, could you please secure the scene and wait for the coroner? We need to ensure the confidentiality of her identity until I can speak with the senator. It's going to be bad enough for him; the last thing we need is a media circus."
Excerpted from OVERTURNED! by A. Raynor Copyright © 2012 by A. Raynor. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A very timely read as the subject of abortion seems to be coming back front and center. No matter what side you are on the novel brings up some very good scenarios if we find ourselves in a world where things are completely reversed.The subject is very well thought out by the author ,and the chapters move the story beautifully to a really good ending.
I can only have three words for this book EXCELLENT EXCELLENT EXCELLENT!!! A definite must read. I know myself that I have never given this topic a second thought .Never imagining that this could actually happen. I guarantee you that after reading this book you will.