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Ecstasy    by Beth Saulnier order for
by Beth Saulnier
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2003)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

When chirpy, impulsive Gabriel Monitor reporter Alex Bernier ducks slower than her colleagues, she's given the task of camping out and covering the annual Melting Rock Music Festival, her view of the assignment from hell. After she publishes a sanitized interview of a group of eight teens who have attended the event since they were small (and for whom the festival is 'ecstasy'), one boy dies from an apparent drug overdose, and a psychic predicts more victims.

What I like best about this series is its insider's perspective on the news business, both its upside and downside. Alex tells us that she's often been compared to a vulture, leech, vampire or parasite, all of which 'prey on the misfortunes of others'. While she acknowledges the unpleasant aspects of covering tragedy, she also shares with us the fact that it does make the job more interesting. And she quickly discovers that the Town Council has discouraged policing drugs at the festival, which generates considerable cash for the town.

Another sub-plot involves the Deep Lake Cooling project, developed to generate air-conditioning for the local university, but delayed by the 'Gabriel tree-hugging set' (the same ones who protested genetically engineered food in vegetable disguise in Bad Seed). When Mad and Alex investigate (using highly unorthodox methods) they uncover a financial link between the festival and Deep Lake. Alex's reporter nemesis Gordon is close to breaking the same story, and Alex herself is soon in very hot water indeed.

Alex and her co-workers are always fun to be with, and are again in a mystery setting that combines interesting environmental issues with a strong element of farce. Though I found Bad Seed even better, Ecstasy is not to be missed by Bernier fans.

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