Assistant coroner MJ Novak is terrified that she's discovered a lethal designer drug that the pushers have turned loose on the streets of her city. One death is just another footnote to big city life, a day-to-day drug overdose. The second death might constitute a coincidence. But three deaths are a full-blown epidemic with the promise of many more deaths to come if nothing is done about it. When Novak goes to the police and the mayor to alert the public, she's confronted with, at best, an uncaring administration that sees drug deaths as an entirely legal and convenient way to rid the streets of junkies, druggies, prostitutes, pot heads and low-lifes. At worst, Novak fears a potential conspiracy and cover-up of a drug leaked from research trials at a local pharmaceutical company.
The plot device of a sole practitioner, be it a GP, physician with hospital privileges, medical examiner, coroner or forensic pathologist, tilting against a corporation or government conspiracy is old hat (and, if I may say so, spectacularly overworked) for medical thrillers. But this is one of Tess Gerritsen's earliest works and, as such, can be accepted as a ground-breaking pioneer as opposed to a derivative copycat.
There is also the issue of the "romance". Other readers have suggested that this is a weakness that makes PEGGY SUE GOT MURDERED less successful. It's only my opinion, of course, but, for my money, the romantic interludes (well written without being the least bit Hollywood or syrupy) are entirely entertaining and make PEGGY SUE GOT MURDERED a perfectly legitimate contender for 4-stars even in today's crowded medical thriller field. I have to admit that I also like the fact that the ending is not in the least predictable.
Great job, Ms Gerritsen. I've been a fan for a long time and it was a treat to go back and fill the hole that I missed in your body of work. Highly recommended.