And She Was
by Alison Gaylin
Review by Mel Jacob
Harper Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061878206
Date: 21 February 2012 List Price $5.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Brenna suffers from a condition that makes it impossible to forget anything. She has not only a photographic memory, but a sensory memory as well. The memories can be triggered by almost anything, and she relives a particular moment in her past unaware of what happens around her. It plays havoc with her relationships with her daughter and her ex-husband.
Gaylin provides interesting and sympathetic characters. Brenna is aided by her young assistant Trent who handles various tasks including occasional hacking. Trendy, he provides comic relief from his silver nipple rings to his outlandish clothing. Reliable and persistent, he makes a good sidekick.
The men in Brenna's life, her ex-husband and a sympathetic police detective, worry that her dogged persistence sometimes leads her into danger. Both try to discourage her, but she continues to ferret out the villain. While Brenna wants love, she also fears the hurt it has caused her and avoids becoming to close to others.
Gradually clues emerge that include a blue car that matches one Brenna saw years ago when her older sister disappeared. She believes it may be the same car, especially after she found mention of one in police reports on the missing child. However, the police ignore her calls. Her sister has never been heard from or found.
Much of the mystery is told with flashbacks into Brenna's past life and, as she relives those memories, clues emerge related to the present case. The dead woman had employed a series of detectives to gather information related the child's disappearance. Then, the latest detective turns up dead and his files are missing.
Like Peter Dickinson's mysteries, Gaylin's use of Brenna's medical/mental condition fuels the action and the solution to the mystery. Some may find the flashbacks disconcerting, but they relate to the action and provide necessary background information and clues. Gaylin provides an interesting puzzle and an exciting climax. Her next Brenna Spector mystery will be out in fall of 2012.