Monday, July 18, 2016

Why Write Medical Mysteries?

Today I welcome friend and fellow author J.L.Greger. I enjoy her mysteries because I always learn something from them. She uses real cutting-edge medical discoveries as the basis of her books. I’ve asked her to tell us about her latest book, Murder…A New Way to Lose Weight. Lorna

Birth of a Medical Mystery
Have you noticed? Many Americans have schizophrenic attitudes about food. If you doubt me, flip on your TV and watch the ads. First there’s one for a restaurant with pictures of smiling people and sizzling steaks or pizzas dripping with gooey cheese. Next comes a commercial for a diet regime or exercise product. The presenter is smiling as she effortlessly performs twenty abdominal crunches with some sort of “torture” contraption. Most of us would pant after moving the device twice. After a small break for the program, the ads are back.

Funny? Sad and pathetic? Annoying, especially to me, a former professor of nutrition. Maybe, that’s why I wrote Murder…A New Way to Lose Weight.

Let me tell you a little about my new medical mystery.

Dieting is hard. So is fitting into a new job where you aren’t wanted. Linda Almquist is trying to do both as the new interim associate dean of a medical school. Linda steps into a battle among the cliques of the school when she checks out allegations that two diet doctors are recklessly endangering the lives of their obese patients. Then she discovers one of the diet doctors—dead. She and the police suspect the other diet doctor of the murder. Maybe they’re wrong. The murders might be related to something in the past―something involving her boss, the Dean. While Linda fears for her job, the police fear for her life.

Another reason for setting my mystery in a medical school reflects my professional experiences. I was an associate dean in a medical school. Several of the scenes in Murder…A Way to Lose Weight recreate actual events. Associate deans are the recipients of responsibility for all the messes, which the head dean doesn’t want to touch.

Hundreds of clever, creative people (grouped in cliques based on disciplines, intellectual differences, and perceived past slights) work in a typical university health center. Occasionally, a few become bored with medical challenges and unleash their skills on each other. Thankfully, they generally seek revenge verbally, not physically. However, the comments of the medical examiner (Omar Otega) to the investigating police (Hitchings) in Murder…A Way to Lose Weight ring true.

“Motive?” Hitchings scanned the crowd and motioned Omar back to him. “Omar, do we even have a murder? Looks like natural causes.”

“Can’t tell,” replied Omar.

“But no bullet or stab wounds? So natural causes are likely.”

“You’re in a medical school.” Omar walked closer to Hitchings and spoke more softly. “Everyone in this building probably knows how to kill someone without using a gun or knife. A complete tox screen will take weeks. And this woman was only in her thirties, pretty young to die suddenly.”

My third reason to write a medical suspense novel was I found a series of scientific articles on a hot area of research—gut bacteria. Scientists have found the microflora (bacteria) in the gut change with weight loss. Scientists hypothesize they may be able to help patients increase weight loss and keep weight off by altering their gut bacteria. The science educator in me wanted to share that information.

Murder…A Way to Lose Weight (paperback & Kindle) is available from Amazon (

J. L. Greger likes to include tidbits of science and foreign locations in her thriller novels—I Saw You in Beirut (set partially in the Middle East), Ignore the Pain (set partially in Bolivia) and Malignancy (set partially in Cuba & winner of 2015 Public Safety Writers Association annual competition). Yes, she’s traveled to all those spots. Learn more about her at her website: or blog:


  1. Maybe this will interest readers. This book won first place in the Public Safety Writers annual contest over the weekend. Lorna was there cheering me on.

    1. So proud to have been there with you! And your other book, "I Saw You in Beirut," took third! Congrats!