Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Crash & Burn

Lisa Gardner’s new psychological novel Crash & Burn is the kind of book that Alfred Hitchcock might have jumped all over during his moviemaking heyday.  This one is filled with so many plot twists and surprises that the reader is kept off balance all the way to the book’s final pages.  And, Nicky Frank, Gardner’s main character who is also one of the book’s narrators, takes the “unreliable narrator” device to the extreme, something Hitchcock would have loved.

When Nicky Frank regains consciousness and realizes that she has run off a remote New Hampshire highway and is trapped in her car, she has only one concern: her daughter.  Where is Vero?  She’s not in the car, and even the search dog brought to the scene of the accident can’t find the little girl.  Now it is up to Sergeant Wyatt Foster to find her before it is too late.  But, as Sgt. Foster is soon to learn, all is not as it seems, because according to Nicky’s husband, there is no little girl.  She does not exist.

According to Thomas Frank, his wife has suffered three concussions in the past six months, leading to the kind of head trauma in which she still sometimes has difficulty telling the difference between reality and dreams.  Being the good cop that he is, when he hears “three concussions in six months,” Wyatt Foster immediately begins to suspect that Thomas Frank just might be the villain of the piece.  Is the man, in fact, trying to kill his wife?

Lisa Gardner
Thus begins a rollercoaster ride during which Nicky desperately tries to tell the difference between what is real and what is not.  Is Thomas the husband who pledged to protect his wife with his own life if need be, or is he the husband she sometimes believes she has reason to fear and mistrust?  Who is Vero and why can’t Nicky get her out of her head?  Without help from someone she can trust, Nicky may never find the answers to any of the questions being thrown at her by Wyatt Foster and the New Hampshire North Country Sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Division.  Wyatt, still not sure if he is dealing with a criminal or a victim in the person of Nicky Frank, is determined to get to the truth – and he may just turn out to be one of the few friends Nicky has.

Crash & Burn is both psychological thriller and police procedural, and it will add to the positive reputation that Lisa Gardner has already earned with her eight-book Detective D.D. Warren series and her FBI Profiler and Tessa Leoni series.  In Crash & Burn, as she sometimes does, Gardner mixes the characters from the different series into her story. This time around, P.I. Tessa Leoni works closely with Wyatt Foster to solve the Nicky Frank case, and D.D. Warren even manages a cameo appearance of her own.  Lisa Gardner fans will be pleased.

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