Throat Culture by Christopher Golden and Rick Hautala
Body of Evidence series by Christopher Golden and Rick Hautala, begins by the sea and ends on a strong note.
Anyone that's worked in food service could tell you a story or two about what goes in the kitchen and on the floor. There are the regular patrons, the menu changes, the interesting requests, the difficult co-workers, and more. After an employee at Oceana's By the Sea conducts a deadly experiment on the customers - just as, quote, "a field test to see how things work" - he decides not to stop there. Shortly thereafter, he taints the food at a faculty luncheon at Somerset University - a luncheon celebrating the marriage of Criminology professor Frank Logan and English professor Shayna Emerson. And Shayna's reaction to the tainted food lands her in the hospital, paralyzed.
Enter Frank's daughter, Jenna Blake, who works for the Medical Examiner's office and has both the personal and professional motivation to catch this guy. Readers who have followed Jenna through all ten novels in this series will be cheering her on as she investigates the crime that's hit so close to home - but will she go too far this time?
As extremely sad as I am to see this series come to an end, I am glad that the authors gave us such a solid final scene. That image has stuck with me, and it still strikes me when I re-read it. Jenna is a fiery, intelligent, and resourceful woman, and her strength and determination make her a great protagonist. The characters who surround her - Danny, Slick, Yoshiko, Hunter, Dyson, her friends, her family - matter to her, and to the readers.
Throughout the course of the series, we've seen Jenna grow and change, but she's always stayed true to herself, and she's always fought for the victims, refusing to give up until she finds the perp or at least makes things better for those touched by the crimes. If there ever was another book in this line, and it was set a few years in the future, I wouldn't be surprised to find Jenna working as a Medical Examiner or as a detective, Homicide or Undercover - and her partner would be Veronica Mars. (Think Rizzoli & Isles.) Wouldn't that be awesome?
Cover flap summary:
"Could she have become infected without showing any symptoms herself? Could she be contagious?"
Wedding bells are ringing for Jenna Blake's dad, and she couldn't be happier for him. His new wife, Shayna, is just the greatest. And their wedding luncheon is perfect -- until the food arrives. When guests start experiencing unusual symptoms, Jenna knows something is terribly wrong. Then all too quickly, Shayna winds up paralyzed.
But Shayna's not the only victim. The mysterious illness begins to sweep Jenna's college campus, leaving two students dead. Doctors suspect that this is no ordinary virus. Highly unusual and destructive, it could only be the work of human hands.
While the Center for Disease Control is blanketing the campus, Jenna and the rest of the medical examiner's team scramble to put the pieces together. But the longer it takes to solve the puzzle, the more critical the situation becomes...
Because this virus is deadly -- and very contagious.
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