“Deadline” by J. J. Livingston, a pen name for Jennifer Greer, is a fascinating read. It explores many issues women face including their treatment in Middle Eastern countries, and the timely issue of stem cell research. But it is also a book that everyone can relate with, through the action packed plot and the issues of trying to cope with PTSD, hold onto a job, being a single parent, and empty nest syndrome.
The author has experienced many of the issues her characters have gone through. She commented, “My husband died when my two girls were nine months and two years old. I have been a widow for fifteen years now. My husband died instantly in a car accident. Being a single parent was a tough transition for me. First you go into shock because you realize at this moment the finality of death. Yet, you don’t feel it or process it then. It’s only over time that you come to accept it. I still remember being notified as if it were yesterday. The Fresno coroner personally drove to my house even though it was an hour away. He saw I was with my children and decided to wait for my two pastors to come over to inform me.”
As a former police reporter she is able to use her past experiences to write a very realistic and believable plot. The main protagonist is Whit McKenna, a tough and driven journalist who seeks out the truth. She is a former war correspondent who had to overcome rape, torture, and her husband being killed in Afghanistan. Ending up going back to Medford, Oregon to raise her two children, she eventually finds a job at the local paper. Thinking that will be a safe environment for her two children, she finds out otherwise when a string of murders occur. While seeking out the truth about a certain clinic and attempting to connect the dots about the different killings, she must also cope with disturbing flashbacks about her time in Afghanistan. After writing a number of front-page articles McKenna receives the ire of the killer who will stop at nothing to silence her.
Some of the most potent scenes are the descriptions of McKenna’s time in Afghanistan. Livingston describes the rape, the beatings with kicks, punches, and tree branches at the hands of Al Qaeda insurgents. But most powerful was this quote, “John (her husband) felt helpless and couldn’t stand watching me suffer…He shared my pain. I think he may have felt the same way about Afghanistan.” It brings into focus the real war on women and how hard it is for rape victims to cope.
Livingstone noted to blackfive.net, “I was a journalist in Bosnia. We were at the war zone, five miles from the front lines. Periodically we were stopped and frisked at gunpoint. While there I covered a story about women and children refugees. A lot of people never made it into the camps before they were raped. My whole point of writing, whether journalism or a novel, is to touch the hearts and minds of my readers. When I pick up a book I like learning something new. It is like reading a news article in a different format. I like to take on social issues and incorporate them into a fictional story.”
“Deadline” is a riveting and informative thriller. In addition to a fast paced and suspenseful plot it has well developed characters. Anyone that enjoys a story with a lot of twists and turns should read this book.