Dr. Joanna Lander is a psychologist studying near-death experiences (NDEs) at Mercy General Hospital. She spends much of her time traversing the labyrinth of the hospital corridors and stairwells trying to get to patients who have been revived from death and interview them about their NDEs. A new neurologist, Dr. Richard Wright, convinces Joanna to join him in his project which simulates NDEs through the use of psychoactive drugs. Richard records the subject's brain activity during the session and Joanna conducts an interview afterward. When several subjects drop out of the study, Richard is in danger of losing his funding and Joanna steps in as a subject herself. Now she can experience what she has only heard about. She finds the experience hauntingly familiar, not just because of what she has been told by patients, but because the place she finds herself in during the NDE is so real. Each time she goes back, she learns more, but she knows that the key to the puzzle is somewhere else.
Just when Joanna makes her discovery, the plot takes a startling turn, leaving the reader turning the pages faster and faster to see where author Connie Willis will go with this fascinating story. Passage combines humor, suspense, and the horror of death with an interesting set of characters, some of whom inadvertently get in the way of the main characters' quest.
Reviewed by mb, 6/01. Other reviews by mb.