Book Review: Headaches Can Be Murder by Marilyn Rausch & Mary Donlon
Charles “Chip” E. Collingsworth III was supposed to become a neurosurgeon like his father and grandfather before him, but wasn’t suited to being a doctor, so dropped out of medical school. Three failed marriages later and with his trust fund depleted, Chip wrote a crime novel about famed neurosurgeon John Goodman investigating “the Cranium Killer” with the FBI, and casting two of his ex-wives as victims. To his surprise, he found an agent willing to represent the manuscript, and it turned into a best-seller.
On a cross-country trip, Chip stumbled across an abandoned farmhouse in Turners Bend, Iowa, and decided that this would be a good place to write his second book in. Except that he’s run out of ex-wives he wants to murder (his first wife was much nicer) and that means he’s out of ideas. Until one day he falls off a shed, and the ensuing bump on his head gives him a painful inspiration for a possible plotline. As his real life and novel intertwine, can Chip survive long enough to finish the manuscript?
The gimmick in this book, the first in the Chip Collingsworth series, is that there are two stories unfolding simultaneously. Chip lives his life in rural Iowa, and as things happen around him, he incorporates versions of them into Dr, Goodman’s quest to find out whether microchips inserted into people’s brains are turning them into killers. Chip meets an attractive veterinarian, and Dr. Goodman meets an attractive FBI agent. Chip adopts a golden retriever, and Dr. Goodman does as well. Not all the things happening in Turners Bend are so benign, however, and Chip winds up doing some investigating himself.
One thing that amused me was Chip constantly being given suggestions on what kind of characters should be in his next book, which just happened to match the persons who suggest them.
The twin narrative approach is fun, but means that each story gets less character development. I noticed quite a few spellchecker typos, which would be acceptable in the “fictional” chapters as Chip writes his drafts, but not so much in the “real world” ones.
There are a couple of sex scenes, and a bit of torture in the Goodman section.
Recommended for those wanting to read mysteries with an Iowa connection.