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Falling Off Air    by Catherine Sampson order for
Falling Off Air
by Catherine Sampson
Order:  USA  Can
Mysterious Press, 2004 (2004)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Abandoned by her lover, Adam Wills, Robin Ballantyne interrupted a successful career as an 'award-winning television producer' for 'the Corporation' to deal with being a single mother of twin babies, Hannah and William. Life is chaotic, to say the least. It swiftly becomes even more so when she hears loud arguments, and later sees a body falling down through the air past her window.

The dead woman, Paula Carmichael, was a prominent and well-respected activist for a variety of causes. Paula knew, and worked with, Adam. The shock of the event spurs Robin into re-connecting with both her old career and with her two best friends, and fellow broadcasting professionals, Jane and Suzette. But just as Robin's life looks like it's coming together, it's derailed once more, and this happens again and again throughout this engrossing novel, which is full of surprises. The young mother comes under suspicion of murder - a suspicion that's fed by the media - and though she's not arrested, Robin is determined to find the truth and remove this dark cloud from her life. With childcare help from family and a succession of babysitters (the disloyal Swedish judo expert is especially entertaining) Robin follows threads of evidence (culminating in a video that 'falls off air') and spars with attractive policeman, Detective Chief Inspector Tom Finney, who's trying to put her in jail.

There's a lot more to the novel than just the murder mystery. Robin's elder sister Lorna has chronic fatigue syndrome and her father ('a crook and a con-man') who deserted his family long before, makes another appearance in her life. Adam's parents dispute Robin's custody of the twins, and a younger man who lives nearby shows interest, undaunted by the babies. The plot is also entangled with ethical issues in television production. Catherine Sampson does a brilliant job of riding the reader along the same emotional roller-coaster as her engaging heroine, and I look forward to her next novel.

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