Sheila Martin Berry is the author of two novels, one of which, The Spy Who Never Was has been made into a made-for-cable movie to be broadcast on TNT in the Fall of 1999. She lives in Virginia with her family and, along with her husband, has recently completed a non-fiction book, Circumstantial Evidence: Anatomy of a Midwestern Murder. Ms. Berry is currently at work on her second Cate Lawson novel.
Inside Flap Copy
Mandie Harwood, a young Vietnamese-American woman, is the victim in question. Of her over forty separate, varied and distinct personalities, one, a child, has been raped. Mandie wants justice or, better put, revenge.
Cate Lawson is the head of a local rape crisis and domestic abuse center. She gets the call above and becomes Mandies protector. She wants to help.
Don Barrington is the cop on the case. He finds a suspect, but doesnt know whether to believe Mandie or not. He wants to do his duty.
Gene Lawson is Cates estranged husband. Hes living with his girlfriend and wants a divorce . . . and most of the settlement.
Paul Josephson is the local district attorney with an eye on his political future. He knows a high profile case when he sees one. He wants to milk it.
Carol Chan is the host of a network television news magazine. The story is too good to resist and she wants a scoop.
Sheila Martin Berry stirs this soup of sometimes competing agendas with an experienced hand. Some will win and some will lose, but who and who? My Name is Legion will keep you guessing until the final page.
|First chapter excerpt:
The call came shortly after 2:00 that afternoon. Camille Frederick, who did just about everything that needed doing around the Rape Crisis and Domestic Abuse Center, came bounding into Cate Lawson's second floor office. She'd taken the stairs two at a time-no easy feat for a plump, sixty-something matron.
"There's a problem with a rape victim in the ER at Regina Coeli Hospital," she said breathlessly. "Wanda Newsome's on the line about it." It was Cate's first day on the job as director, but she'd been with the Center in a variety of positions for sixteen years, and was an old hand at emergencies.
"Wanda's the on-call counselor today, isn't she?"
Camille nodded. "She's at the hospital now. It's pretty bizarre. You need to talk to her yourself. Line two."
Cate picked up the phone and punched the button for the secondary line, reserved for emergency access. "This is Cate. What's going on, Wanda?"
"More than I can handle," came the response. "Riverton PD brought in a rape victim who apparently has multiple personalities. When we tried to do the exam, some kind of animal personality or something-I don't know what-came out and tried to attack Dr. Bernard."
"Is he okay?"
"Yes, I think so. She bit him. Now she's holed up in the examining room and no one knows what to do. Can you please come over here?"
It took Cate precisely five minutes to get there-two minutes to cross the street and gain Regina Coeli's front entrance, then another three minutes winding through the familiar corridors to the emergency services unit. Not much had changed in that time. Two police officers, a nurse, Dr. Bernard and Wanda were clustered outside an examining room, talking in hushed but excited tones. The doctor and nurse moved on to treat other patients while one of the police officers sketched out the situation for Cate. The young woman's name was Mandie Harwood. She claimed to have multiple personalities and had called the Riverton Police shortly after 1:00 pm to report that one of her personalities had been raped. Per procedure, she had been transported to Regina Coeli, but 'flipped out' before he could get a coherent statement from her. She crawled under the desk in the examining room, growling, and bit Dr. Bernard when he tried to touch her. She was still in there.
"Has anyone contacted the on-call psychiatrist?" Cate asked.
"I don't know," said the officer.
Cate read the name tag clipped just above his vest pocket, precisely at her eye level-D. Barrington.
"I don't think so," he finished.
"Why don't you do that. See if she's been a patient here and if she has a psychiatrist of record. If she does, call him or her." Cate followed Officer Barrington's gaze to the examining room door. She sighed. Cate was half the size of either of the police officers, and at forty-two, probably older than both. But there were no volunteers, so she stepped up to the plate. "I'll go see what the situation is now, but I'm leaving the door open," she told Barrington. "Your partner should stay put in case I need help."
'I need my own head examined,' Cate thought as she entered the small room, which at first glance appeared empty. The only sign of trouble was a chair overturned on the floor, midway between the modular desk and the examining table. Under the desk, pushed back against the wall, she could see a slender, dark haired figure crouched and quivering. Cate bent down and the figure growled. Moving in closer, she extended her hand to the figure. It snarled and snapped at her. Cate pulled back. She moved slowly backward, one step at a time, nothing sudden or jerky or startling, until she was against the opposite wall, her eyes all the while riveted on the figure under the desk. On it. 'Jesus Christ, what do I do now?' She sat cross legged on the floor, her oversized tunic top enveloping her legs, still watching it. It watched her back from a half-fetal position, but couldn't hold eye contact. It would look at her, then hide its face, then look at her again. It whimpered, a sound part human, part animal. 'It's afraid.' Cate slowly stretched out on her side and lay down on the floor. A position of vulnerability, primal body language that she hoped it would understand: I won't hurt you. It whimpered again and covered its face, then pop! The pop! was loud and clear, something electrical, a blown circuit, a blown something, that was certain.
"Thing came out, didn't he?" Cramped and dizzy, the young woman uncoiled her body from its lair under the desk. Her question assumed an affirmative answer.
"I don't know." Cate remained shaken. "I don't know who Thing is and I don't understand what happened."
"Thing comes out when we get scared. He's some kind of animal or something, like a guard dog but not a dog. I don't know just what he is or how to describe him." She righted the chair, sat on it and sighed. "It's a problem. Almost anything can set him off and then he's out and I'm gone."
Cate pulled herself to her feet and studied the slender figure without speaking. The two women were about the same height and weight, and shared an apparent preference for wearing slacks with oversized blouses. But the resemblance ended there. The younger woman had dark brown hair, very straight and cut in a blunt bob, the opposite of Cate's blonde curls. The subtle slant of her eyes, along with a sprinkling of freckles across her nose led Cate to think 'Eurasian.' Late twenties, was Cate's guess, but somehow innocent looking.
"Who are you?" Cate tentatively asked.
"I'm Mandie Harwood. I'm not one of the Insiders," she added. "I'm the host."© 1999 Sheila Martin Berry
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