Biochemist Emma Caldridge returns in this fourth (and perhaps best) installment of this fine series that continues to give author Jamie Freveletti’s readership more than their money’s worth. DEAD ASLEEP brings interesting and memorable characters --- both good and bad --- to a pair of parallel plot lines that slowly converge upon each other, all set against the backdrop of exotic locales.
"The twin plot lines presented here proceed along quite independently for some time --- though a hint of the later intersection occurs early in the narrative --- giving the reader the impression of getting two novels for the price of one, with three times the excitement one normally encounters in books of this genre."
Caldridge’s Pure Chemistry lab has been tasked by a major cosmetic company with locating plant minerals that may well reverse the aging process. As the book begins, her work is interrupted when a self-styled priestess and her dangerous, zombie-like minion attempt to destroy Caldridge’s field lab that she has set up in a rented villa on the expensive and exclusive island of Terra Cay. Her work is further interrupted when the charming frontman for a rock music supergroup asks her to come to the band’s retreat, where they are preparing to record their next album. One of the members has succumbed to a trance-like sleep from which he cannot be roused. At first, Caldridge suspects that the man’s prodigious use of drugs has much to do with his condition, and the presence of controlled substances in his room seems to confirm this. But when another band member falls victim to the same condition, and other people on Terra Cay also become comatose, Caldridge wonders if there is more going on here than drug overdoses of the rich and famous.
Meanwhile, Cameron Sumner of Darkview, a highly regarded security agency, is working undercover as a vacationing gambler when an explosive attempt upon his life nearly succeeds. A new type of ammunition has been created, and its developers will stop at nothing to see that it is brought to market. The paths of Sumner and Caldridge slowly converge, which would be welcomed under different circumstances. Terra Cay is in danger of being put under worldwide quarantine, and it is up to Caldridge to race against time to discover not only the source of the mysterious and quickly spreading disease, but also its cure, before the condition hops off of the island and spreads to the rest of the world.
Freveletti does an excellent job of giving newcomers to the series just enough information to introduce the characters involved, while providing tantalizing references to prior exploits. The twin plot lines presented here proceed along quite independently for some time --- though a hint of the later intersection occurs early in the narrative --- giving the reader the impression of getting two books for the price of one, with three times the excitement one normally encounters in books of this genre. And then, of course, there is the island of Terra Cay itself, which sounds like the ideal spot to spend a week or two after winning the national lottery.
What more could one ask for? Well, those readers of a certain age will appreciate the 14-point type size in the paperback format. If one needed more incentive to read DEAD ASLEEP, I don’t know what it would be.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on November 30, 2012