And She Was by Alison Gaylin
Iris Neff, a six-year-old little girl, has been missing for over a decade. Now Carol Wentz, one of the last people to see Iris, has disappeared. Her husband, Nelson, hires private investigator Brenna Spector to find her. Cooperating with local police detective Nick Morasco, they must work quickly to try to find Carol before it’s too late. In doing so, they may even solve the disappearance of Iris.
What may help most is Brenna’s ability or her curse, as she would say. Since the disappearance of her own sister, Clea, when she was young, Brenna has experienced the rare condition known as hyperthymestic syndrome. She forgets nothing at all. Name a date, and she can tell you where she was, and what she was doing, plus she’ll be seeing and hearing everything as it happened then. This is a real condition where the person has autobiographical memory and remembers everything detected by their senses for every moment of their past.
Throughout their investigation, Brenna’s condition helps because she can remember certain things about Iris’ case others have forgotten. As they get closer to solving these disappearances, people related to the two cases begin to die. Can Brenna and Detective Morasco learn who is behind everything before it is too late?
Brenna is an amazing protagonist who attempts to balance being a single parent with being a private investigator. She is a strong, hard-working mother, who is also very vulnerable. One of the things I found fascinating was how Brenna’s memories about different events would usually pop in at the worst possible times, often interrupting conversations she was having and making life generally difficult. Because of this, she often feels guilty for not giving her daughter, Maya, enough attention, something Maya is extremely talented at taking advantage of.
Then there is Detective Nick Morasco. A long-time cop, Morasco is very accepting of Brenna’s condition, and is willing to allow her to help him solve the case. There is a part of him that realizes she tried to help when Iris originally disappeared, and feels guilty for ignoring the information she provided at the time.
The other character worth mentioning is Brenna’s assistant, Trent. Trent is a rather flamboyant personality, which works well against Brenna’s seriousness. A major techno-geek, he is able to help Brenna in numerous ways, and provides a comic presence that often annoys Brenna.
This novel was a riveting page turner from beginning to end. The story flows smoothly into a logical, yet unforeseen finale. It is an engrossing psychological thriller filled with suspense that leaves you wanting to read more about Brenna. I look forward to devouring the sequel.