TOUCHED BY LYME: “Welcome to the Lyme wars, Janessa!”
(Book review) Who knew the IDSA Lyme treatment guidelines could be fodder for a rip-snorting mystery story?
In OVER THE EDGE, the newest suspense novel from best-selling author Brandilyn Collins, heroine Janessa McNeil doesn’t know she has Lyme disease. At first, she thinks it’s a bad case of flu. Then things turn weird. Almost overnight, her symptoms careen wildly out of control. She has trouble walking, talking, thinking clearly, and sometimes even taking a breath. Then she gets menacing phone calls from a man (a stalker? a terrorist? a nut job?) claiming she’s been infected with Lyme disease and threatening to do the same to her daughter.
Since Janessa is married to Dr. Brock McNeil, a prominent Lyme disease researcher, you’d think she’d have an inside track for getting to the bottom of all this. Not so. Dr. McNeil is nationally known for denying the existence of chronic Lyme—making it harder for Lyme patients to get treated and easier for insurance companies to refuse payment. Brock also wants out of their marriage.
So, Janessa must struggle alone with her worsening illness, her phone tormentor’s scary demands, her husband’s dismissal of her symptoms as a ploy to win him back, and keeping her daughter out of harm’s way.
Drawing heavily on her own personal battle with Lyme disease, Brandilyn Collins vividly communicates what Lyme symptoms can feel like:
“The tiredness is so….fierce. I’ve been pregnant. Had the flu. All the normal things that make you tired. But this is like…you know those blankets they put on you for protection when you get an X-ray? How heavy they are? I feel like t-ten of those are on me. But not on me. In me. Wrapped around my lungs. It’s so hard to move. It’s like walking in a swimming pool…in water up to your neck.”
OVER THE EDGE deftly inserts factual information about ticks, Lyme disease, and the medical controversy over Lyme treatment into a riveting suspense tale. (Who knew the IDSA Lyme treatment guidelines could be fodder for a rip-snorting mystery story?)
In an author’s note at the end, Collins tells the reader, “I haven’t just studied Lyme disease. I’ve lived it.” She recounts the seed of this novel: during her own illness, she read articles where prominent Lyme researchers dismissed the complaints of Lyme patients, claiming Lyme was easy to cure. “What those know-it-alls need,” she thought, “is a real good case of Lyme.” And so the idea for this novel was born.
Members of the Lyme community will get a kick out of OVER THE EDGE. And readers just learning about Lyme will vow to avoid tick bites at all cost.
You can read more about Over the Edge, watch a video about it and read the opening scene at www.brandilyncollins.com.
Blogger Dorothy Kupcha Leland can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.