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Where No One Should Live

    The heat slowly climbed, and the afternoons began to bake. First ninety degrees, then ninety-five. The fingertips of saguaro cactus erupted with creamy white blossoms, and Phoenix residents did their best to enjoy this last taste of spring before June struck.

For Dr. Maya Summer at Arizona Public Health, it was already too late. The mosquitoes were rising along with the temperature.

    "Just give me another week, you little villains," she muttered to the mosquitoes. Maya switched between two computers on her large desk, one screen filled with spreadsheets, the other displaying grisly images of crushed motorcycles.

    Her breath caught as she surveyed the carnage in those sterile numbers and twisted fenders, imagining the heartache and pain. The ruined bodies, the grieving families. Although Arizona once imposed helmets, voters withdrew that law in the seventies. Maya's personal mission, an uphill battle, meant convincing citizens to reverse the decision and make motorcycle helmets mandatory again. And meanwhile, more urgent issues kept derailing her.

    Like now. A message flashed in one corner of the screen:

            Dr. Summer--please reply now to schedule TV interview.





Reviews & endorsements:


... Miller is not only an experienced novelist, but also a retired doctor, so readers learn … about local diseases … and drugs both natural and human-made … the book is not just entertaining, but educational as well. Phoenix, with its punishing summer weather beautifully described ("The sky stood dazed, a feeble ruined blue"), is almost a character itself, which perhaps explains the gripping novel's ominous title …

An enjoyable tale with plenty of suspense and the bonus of intriguing medical details.                                                                      – Kirkus Review



"I couldn't put this down. Dr. Miller makes great use of her expertise in public health, residency training, horses, and Arizona to weave a remarkable tale unique in its Southwestern flavor. An evidence-based mystery with characters that fly off the page. Miller mixes her unique blend of knowledge and humor to keep a reader engrossed."
—Steven R. Brown, MD, FAAFP, program director, University of Arizona College of Medicine/Phoenix Family Medicine Residency and president, Association of Family Medicine Residency Directors


"Knowledgeable, entertaining, and a fine writer, Miller takes the page-turner on a wild ride through the mysteries of the medical world, all of this set in the midst of everyday happenings. There is an urgency to her telling that pulls the reader ever onward. A very enjoyable read."  —Phyllis Barber, author of The Desert Between Us


With trademark warmth and humor, an insider's knowledge, and nuggets of public-health wisdom on everything from motorcycle helmets to ZIKA-bearing mosquitos, physician/writer Sandra Miller deftly conjures up yet another appealing heroine: Maya Summer, a smart, attractive, funny and warm-hearted family doctor with a traumatic secret in her past. As a busy public-health official in Phoenix, Dr. Summer faces myriad challenges--local reporters seeking to sensationalize the latest medical news,  anonymous death threats in response to her advocacy for motorcycle safety, and  clinic patients who range from lovably quirky or downright cantankerous. (Not to mention her worries for Rosa and Rafael, the undocumented Guatemalan mother and son who live next door.) As springtime turns to scorching summer, Dr. Summer also grapples with a troubling sense of disconnect from her "perfect" cardiologist lover, and a growing attraction to a low-key fellow family doc. To this rich mix, Miller (drawing from real life) adds a medical mystery: Dr. Summer's colleagues and residents fall prey to an increasingly sinister string of murky illnesses. As Miller's tale makes clear, Dr. Summer must call upon the traits that make her a good family doctor--sharp intelligence, hard-earned clinical wisdom, deep human decency and courage--if she's to have any chance of solving the medical riddle, and the even deeper mysteries within her own heart. -- Diane Guernsey, executive editor, Pulse: voices from the heart of medicine.