Sometimes, nothing other than a life-affirming change of scenery will do. So it is with Dr. Samantha Owens, formerly a state medical examiner in Tennessee, who, at the beginning of EDGE OF BLACK, has taken a job in Washington, D.C. at Georgetown University’s forensic pathology department. Fans of author J.T. Ellison are well aware of the changes that she has put Sam through, and if they think that her life will be just as tumultuous in the nation’s capital as it was in Nashville, their expectations will be met --- and exceeded.
"EDGE OF BLACK straddles a number of genres, having elements of a police procedural, medical thriller, romantic suspense, and psychological drama. As always, Ellison’s research runs long and deep..."
EDGE OF BLACK starts with an enigmatic but suspenseful vignette before giving the reader an over-the-shoulder look at Sam's lecturing style. Her class is cut short, though, when one of her students suddenly falls ill. When she takes the student to the hospital, she is amazed to find that the emergency room is overflowing with critically ill people, which is highly unusual for that time of day. It is quickly determined that some sort of deadly biological agent was released into the D.C. Metro. The attack is puzzling for multiple reasons. While a great number of people fell seriously ill, only three died. Why is there such a low body count in a target-rich environment? Why was the attack carried out at that place and that time? Sam gradually begins to realize that there is another important question as well: Why did those three people become victims?
Sam is quite frustrated; she is no longer part of a law enforcement team (this, by her own choosing, and in part due to the painful memories from her experiences in Nashville), yet she instinctively jumps to get back into the game, only to be rebuffed initially. She gets her wish, though, when she is brought into the investigation on a consultative basis. The irony of this eventually becomes apparent to her. It is Xander Whitfield, Sam’s new love interest, who holds the key to obtaining at least some of the answers. Xander is a very interesting character, one who threatens to eclipse Sam in her own series. He is a former Army Ranger who spent his formative years being raised in Colorado by hippies and is possessed with a skill set that makes him a handy boyfriend to have in dangerous situations.
Sam's investigation leads her back to Colorado and the location of Xander’s childhood. It becomes clear that the attack at the D.C. Metro was not carried out by a stereotypical terrorist organization, but is instead the work of a lone actor who has an all-too-dark revenge in mind.
EDGE OF BLACK straddles a number of genres, having elements of a police procedural, medical thriller, romantic suspense, and psychological drama. As always, Ellison’s research runs long and deep, and it shows particularly in the painstaking steps that Sam and the investigative team take as they race against time to find the who, why and what of the attack in an attempt to locate the doer before another incident takes place. And, as always, she ends the book with her readers wishing and hoping for more.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 7, 2012