About Discovering Grace

Discovering Grace book cover. A Mercy Johnson novel by Reita Pendry. A house with a straw roof and a dock, sitting on the edge of the water. The sky is blue and trees/foliage surrounds the house and rocks sit on the other side of the water.

A few people wanted Vance Austin dead. But only his wife Eleanor was with his corpse when the police arrived. She was the one who called the police and told them she thought she’d stabbed him.

To Peter McFadden, a Washington, D.C. Homicide detective, it looks like a straight-up domestic killing. Until the FBI strong-arms its way into the case, the forensics reports reveal the blood of an unidentified person on the scene, and the dead man’s neighbor tells McFadden she saw two men go into the home right around the time of the killing and leave before the police arrived.

D.C. defense attorney Mercy Johnson agrees to defend Eleanor against a charge of first-degree murder. As she tries to reconcile the evidence against Eleanor with the contradictory scientific trail, she finds an ally in McFadden. Together they work to expose a network of enemies with motive and means to eliminate Vance Austin.

In the course of unraveling these threads, Mercy learns that Eleanor has a secret. One that plunges Mercy into despair and could derail her close-knit family. Will the grace that leads Mercy out of her own despair be enough to save her client?

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Below is some information for readers of Discovering Grace about Possible explanations for Eleanor Austin’s memory loss.

Transient Epileptic Amnesia

Transient epileptic amnesia (TEA) is a rare neurological condition which manifests as episodes of amnesia caused by an underlying temporal lobe epilepsy.  A person experiencing a TEA episode may have difficulty remembering events in the past few minutes or in the hours prior to the attack.  The attack comes on suddenly and the sufferer may not recognize home or family.  Personal identify is usually preserved.  A common attribute is that the sufferer repeatedly asks the same question and is unable to retain the response.  Cognitive functions – perception, communication, attention – are not generally impaired but the brain may fail to recall a range of recent experiences. Sometimes memory loss may last minutes, and in rarer cases, days.  The memory loss may be due to seizure activity or to dysfunction of brain structures.

Transient Epileptic Amnesia, International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neurology, Vol. 5, 2017 – Issue 1.

Transient Global Amnesia

Transient, global anemia is a sudden, temporary episode of memory loss that cannot be attributed to neurological conditions such as epilepsy or stroke.  During an episode, the patient has no recall of recent events and may not be aware of what is going on around him/her.  The patient may repeat the same questions over and over, because he/she cannot remember the answers.  The patient remembers identity and the identity of close family or friends.  Episodes are short in duration and often do not repeat.  The main symptom is the inability to form new memories and to recall the recent past.  Cognition is not affected, and the memory returns gradually, usually within 24 hours.  A diagnosis of transient global amnesia is not appropriate where there is evidence of seizures or history of epilepsy. Since sudden memory loss is more likely the cause of a stroke or seizure, emergency medical attention is required immediately.  The patient may be left with a lack of memory of events during the attack.   Transient Global Amnesia, Mayo Clinic, 2014; Transient Global Amnesia, Roy Sucholeiki, MD, Metscape, September, 2015.

Dissociative Amnesia

Dissociative amnesia is marked by the blocking of information, usually associated with a stressful or traumatic event, which leaves a patient unable to remember important personal information. The memories exist, but are so deeply buried that they cannot be recalled.  Sometimes the memories surface on their own, if triggered by an event.  Dissociative Amnesia, The Cleveland Clinic, 2014.