Joanna Lander, a medical intern, is fascinated by death, and specifically by the accounts of those who have died and been resucitated - those who have had NDEs or Near Death Experiences. Also interested in this field are Maurice Mandrake, author of a number of cringe-making bestsellers at the loony end of the subject, and Dr Richard Wright who is ...
Joanna Lander, a medical intern, is fascinated by death, and specifically by the accounts of those who have died and been resucitated - those who have had NDEs or Near Death Experiences. Also interested in this field are Maurice Mandrake, author of a number of cringe-making bestsellers at the loony end of the subject, and Dr Richard Wright who is researching the brain activity and chemicals produced when NDEs occur. He believes that if the right chemical triggers can be located, heart-attack and trauma patients can be brought back from the edge of death - and he has managed to simulate the right conditions to test his hypothesis. Wooed by both men, Joanna elects to work with Richard, much to Maurice's dismay. Together they test and record dozens of patients and Joann begins to recognize a bizarre pattern to many of their accounts. Beyond the light at the end of the tunnel are people in long white gowns and white uniforms; not angels but something else, something far more familiar and tangible. People seem to be sharing a common image bank - and many of them report turning up on a very large sinking ship. Sceptical, and believing her subjects to be confabulating, Joanna puts herself into the programme - and turns up on the Titanic! Is it real or a metaphor? Does it mean anything significant, or did the movie capture too many people's imagination? In a tremendously powerful and unexpected plot twist Joanna is about to make the awfully big adventure for real.
Publishers Weekly, 2001-03-12 In a departure from her usual historical theme, Willis (Miracle and Other Christmas Stories) pries open the door at the end of the tunnel of Near Death Experience (NDE) while holding firmly to her endearing brand of exasperated humor. Dr. Joanna Lander, a psychologist separating the truth from the expected in NDEs, is talked into working with Dr. Richard Wright (pun intended), a neurologist testing his theory that NDEs are a survival mechanism by simulating them with psychoactive drugs. When navigating the maze of the hospital in which the cafeteria is never open, dodging Mr. Mandrake who writes popular books on NDEs and fabricates most of his accounts and finding uncorrupted participants for their experiments becomes too difficult, Joanna herself goes under. What she finds on the Other Side almost drives her and Richard apart, while solving the mystery of what it means almost drives her mad. Joanna holds nothing back as she searches her mind and her experience; readers will be able to puzzle out the answers just as she does. That this work is less tightly packed than most of Willis's novels somewhat undercuts the tension. Even so, the plot twists, the casual wit and the enjoyable characters will satisfy fans. The shocking occurrence 100 pages from the end is a good indication of Willis's power as a writer. (May 1) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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