Cover image for Confessions of a deathmaiden
Confessions of a deathmaiden
Francisco, Ruth.
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Publication Information:
New York : Mysterious Press Published by Warner Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
339 pages ; 24 cm
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The death under mysterious circumstances of Tom as Gomez, a terminally ill boy left in her charge, draws hospice worker Frances Oliver into an ominous quest that leads her to Mexico to uncover the truth about the boy's untimely death.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Francisco's Los Angeles-based debut novel combines elements of the crime story with a strong supernatural plot thread. Protagonist Frances Oliver is a trained death maiden, or someone who helps people let go and move on to the other side. When young Tomas, a terminally ill boy in Frances' care, is suddenly taken by paramedics to a hospital where his organs are harvested, Frances suspects foul play. Convinced that a biotech company is harvesting organs for profit, she follows the trail to Mexico, site of the Institute for Eternal Living, which is investigating her actions and may revoke her license as a death maiden. Francisco's prose is a bit flowery, but it is counteracted by plenty of suspense and a fascinating premise. --Jenny McLarin Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Frances Oliver, the "deathmaiden" of Francisco's captivating if flawed first novel, helps ease the passage of the corporeal body to the other world, but only when the spirit is ready to make the journey. Her newest client, Tom s, a young Mexican boy living in Los Angeles, is brain-dead, but before she can apply her skills, the boy dies. Believing he was murdered for his organs, this 40-something woman transforms herself into a sleuth to unravel the mystery. Oliver's journey takes her from contemporary L.A. and the unsettling business of organ "recovery" (i.e., harvesting) to the shadowy world of smuggled antiquities and, eventually, deep into the rebel-controlled Mexican mountain village where Tom s was born. Francisco writes with an attractive combination of matter-of-fact authority ("I help people die") and real lyricism, particularly when articulating the fuzzy zone between life and death. But too many convenient coincidences, some awkward foreshadowing and a few overly familiar characters, such as the skeptical but sympathetic policeman and the doctor (named "Faust"!) with a God complex, underline the need next time for a plot more worthy of this highly original and compassionate heroine. (Sept. 24) Forecast: Fans of Michael Connelly, who provides a blurb, will appreciate a setting and style reminiscent of Connelly's Harry Bosch novels. Fans of Margaret Maron, who also endorses the novel, will appreciate the strong and unusual female protagonist. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Frances Oliver is a "deathmaiden," one of a society of women trained in the mystical art of leading the dying into the next world. (She also happens to be a six-foot-tall redhead who drives a Jaguar, which leads the reader to infer that deathmaidens are well paid.) Her latest case involves Tomas Gomez, a young man from Mexico; although he is clinically brain dead, Frances supernaturally senses that Tomas is not ready to die and could possibly even recover. She is stunned when she returns from an errand to find Tomas's body being rushed to the hospital for organ donation. Frances investigates this shocking turn of events, her quest taking her from the jungles of Mexico to the big business of biotech organ harvesting. She is kidnapped and tortured. She solves the mystery. But by then we don't care. While this first novel has a serviceable plot and a suitably creepy title, the rest of it is a mess, intermingling turgid prose with pseudo-science and cartoon characters. Robin Cook's Coma is still a better choice.-Rebecca House Stankowski, Purdue Univ. Lib., Hammond, IN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.