Submitted by Barbara Tom, Murder by the Book, Portland, OR
And She Was
Harper Originals, $5.99
Winner! This is Gaylin's fifth book and the start of a second series.
Brenna Spector has hyperthymestic disorder (like demi-celebrity Marilu Henner). That means that she can recall every day of her life in excruciating detail from the age of 11 onwards. She can remember with all her senses the highs, lows, and mediocrities of her life. She can remember how happy her ex-husband made her, which means she can never truly let go of him. The mostly upside of the disorder means she is an extraordinary private investigator. In fact, Brenna has started to link two cases of disappearance, one about a decade earlier and the other, a recent case.
Because Brenna also peripherally investigated the disappearance of six-year-old Iris Neff from her neighborhood ten years ago, she has met several of the people who now pop up in her current investigation. Carol Wentz has disappeared, and her husband, Nelson, an odd-duck of a man, wants Brenna to find her. Carol lived in Iris' neighborhood and was one of the last people to see Iris. In trying to find Carol, Brenna tries to find Iris' mother, Lydia. She, too, has disappeared. Then a series of seemingly unrelated deaths turn out to share a tenuous link, and the link is Iris, Lydia, and Carol. Is a cigar sometimes just a cigar, or is there really something there worth investigating?
What would romantic suspense be without romance? Professor-ish homicide detective Nick Morasco is the window dressing. Brenna's assistant, the oafish but brilliant Trent, provides the levity. Brenna's daughter, Maya, provides the illusion of teenage angst. And Brenna's missing sister, Clea, provides the reason for the next book.
Nicely paced, well written, good disease/disorder-of-the-week -- a few years ago it was Münchausen-by-proxy -- and just enough character depth to get readers going without drowning in detail. Well done!