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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
Cross Body Lead is a relevant psychological women’s novel by Elie Axelroth that deals with the creepy theme of stalking. Billie Ochoa teaches Cold War Politics and Cuban History at a college campus across the bay from San Francisco. Ever since student Evelyn Davis confided in her about her stalker problem, Billie becomes deeply involved to the point of costing her career. Since then, Billie has always been concerned that Eddie Pike is a serious threat to Evelyn: his break-in and relentless texting; his threat of being able to find her wherever she goes; his ramblings the psychological impact of the horrors he witnessed in Afghanistan. Eddie is a broken man who believes that Evelyn could save him. He is a curious case who will pull everyone into a dramatic social issue. The school authorities, the police, and protesters will all play a part in this tragedy as Billie takes matters into her own hands.
The strength and power of a protagonist are determined by how strong and powerful the antagonist is. This is just one of the plus points of Cross Body Lead as Elie Axelroth doesn’t limit this riveting tale to a man versus man conflict. Billie Ochoa must also contend with the man versus society conflict as she goes through the difficulty of protecting her student pursuant to other people’s sense of justice. The novel is an intelligent thriller, one that addresses issues of student-teacher relationships and the insidious bureaucratic process. Eddie Pike is absolutely despicable, and you either want him to pay for the harassment he inflicts on poor Evelyn or find a reason to understand him. Stalking is one of those real-life horrors that can prove traumatic to its victims, and the way Axelroth depicts this monstrosity is something we all need to take seriously. This is a psychological drama that pulls no punches and is an absolute must-read.