Nurses nurture us when we’re at our lowest ebb. If we’re fortunate, they’re motivated by a mixture of altruism and the prospect of a pay cheque. But if they want to create life-and-death drama in a side ward we can become their helpless pawns. Rose, the anti-heroine of my latest novel, is a Munchausen’s perpetrator who gravitates to Munchausen’s-by-Proxy and enjoys suffocating the patients in her care. As her need for attention grows, she moves outwith the familiar constraints of the hospital environment and into the wider world…

For those not familiar with these psychological disorders, Munchausen’s is the term which applies to those who self harm then pretend that they’ve been hurt in an accident or attacked by another individual. It’s a quick way for an unloved man or woman (though it’s much more common in the latter) to get attention from the medical profession. Within minutes they are transported from a cold and lonely bedsit to a cosy, people-filled hospital where everyone from the receptionist to the doctor appears interested in them.

But occasionally this need for attention escalates and the woman hurts her own child and rushes him to accident and emergency where medics quickly revive him. Mum takes him home only for him to become very ill again. Sometimes these mothers go too far and smother the child for a little too long: to their horror, he cannot be revived and they have lost their currency. These women will go on to grow another victim and it’s only when a second or third child succumbs to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome that the authorities get involved.

Along the way there are usually entirely innocent victims such as friends and neighbours who genuinely believe the MBP perpetrator’s take on events. It’s understandable as these women can be highly plausible and the parts of their story which don’t quite make sense can be easily overlooked by others who are leading busy lives. Brian, who hires Rose to care for his ailing mother-in-law, is trying to come to terms with the loss of his young wife who is believed to have been abducted by a sexual predator. His mother-in-law, in turn, is attempting to communicate after a sudden devastating stroke. Rose’s boss is also coping with a traumatic change of circumstances. When these damaged parties come together, chaos ensues.

Near Death Experience is published in e-book format from Endeavour and is available from amazon where you can read the first four chapters for free.

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