writes with great wit and sensitivity, especially
about the problems of loving and coping with older
relatives, and the complications of returning
to life in the small town where you grew up.”
“Riveting plot, terrifying premise. Eileen
Dreyer makes you hold your breath and makes your
fear any trip to the hospital” Tami Hoag,
NYT Bestselling Author of DOWN THE DARKEST ROAD
4 ½ STAR Review from RT
Eileen Dreyer knocks readers off their feet with
the wit and dark humor of her outstanding hardcover
debut. You won’t forget the power, pain
and moral ambiguity of this incredible novel.
Mary Case- Medical Examiner St. Louis County-
There is an old forensic saying “ Never
say never and never say always” But when
Eileen Dreyer writes about forensics mysteries
– the result is always highly entertaining
and always forensically correct!
St. Louis Post Dispatch - If BRAIN DEAD were
a ride at Six Flags, its dust jacket would bear
a warning sign: “You Must Be 66 Inches Tall
To Enter.” The reason: This book climbs
and spins and wheels and drops rockets along,
and when it’s all over, readers are likely
to feel dizzy for a spell.
The angel of death came at dawn. It wasn't the
usual time for the angel to make its appearance;
the old man knew that. He was familiar with the
breed. He'd seen them hover in the fetid midnight
of a jungle, heard their sly rustle at 3 a.m.
in the alleys that crooked away from taxi stands
like spider legs in the cold night air. He'd fought
off a few and given one or two a knowing nod.
He'd danced one step ahead of them for some seventy-eight
years, and he wasn't in the mood to let this one
catch up with him now.
Especially not here.
It was too clean here, too impersonal. The old
man wanted to meet this angel on his feet, head
up, eyes wide open, in the kind of place he'd
always fought his fights. He wanted the chance
to beat it back just one more time before giving
in to the inevitable.
Go gentle, my ass, he thought, curling his bent,
broken fingers into fists beyond the wrist straps
that made him impotent and old.
"My name is Butch Cleveland," he rasped
with a voice ruined by beer, cigarettes, and parade
grounds. "United States Marine Corps. Serial
number 3124456. And that's all you're getting
from me, you son of a bitch."
"I'm sorry," the angel said, bending
It shouldn't be at dawn, Butch thought, squirming
to get away when there was, ultimately, no place
Not when the sun finally showed up. Death belongs
in the night, deep in the dark hours of dreams
and terrors, when sappers break the fences and
two-dollar fares carry automatics. The dawn brings
redemption. The sun means promise. Hope. Another
"Not now," was all he could say, trembling.
"Shift's over," the angel told him.
He was crying now, ashamed of the tears and the
trembling and his own terror. "I'm not going."
"Nothing you can do."
But there was. He fought the angel. He fought
the pain. And, when it came to it, he fought the
drug that had been injected into his IV for ten
hours, more than anyone but a bull sergeant who
had survived Tarawa and North Market could have
* * *
The angel of death walked back out of Butch Cleveland's
room as the sun topped the low hills outside.
Butch Cleveland, the angel knew, would now be
obliging and die. Nobody could withstand that
much Digoxin. Not even Butch. And when Butch did
die, nobody would notice, because Butch was old
and senile and sick.
The angel carefully recapped the used syringe
and pushed the evidence into a bright-red contaminated
supply box. Then, ever on the alert for the whisper
of nursing shoes along the quiet hallway, the
angel slipped back into the doorway of Butch's
room to make certain of the results.
The angel believed in work well done, and Butch's
death would be that. Just like the others. Just
like the ones to come. After all this time, the
angel knew how to do the job.
Ah, there it was. A gurgle. A gasp. A heartbeat
of silence in the sterile, white-walled room.
Smiling with quiet anticipation, the angel stepped
from the shadows in order to see Butch Cleveland's
eyes flutter to emptiness.
Butch Cleveland's eyes were wide open. His face
was brick-red, his arms shaking against the restraints.
The acrid stench of loosened bowels already permeated
the air. Butch caught sight of the angel, haloed
by the rising sun, and spat all the way across
the room in a final act of defiance.
"Semper fi, you cocksucker!"
But no one in this place noticed an old man's
scream. Butch Cleveland thrashed and choked in
a dying seizure that lasted ten full minutes,
and no one came. Only the angel, who watched with
avid attention until the old man twitched into
final, wide-eyed silence. Then, sighing with perfect
satisfaction, the angel walked out to deal with
the rest of the day.