REVIEW: CRASH & BURN, BY LISA GARDNER

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From the very first page of Crash & Burn (Tessa Leoni series), we are drawn into the mind of a woman, tortured by the confused thoughts in her head, as well as bits and pieces of memories. After she catapults over a ravine in her SUV, she manages to climb out of it. She keeps calling out for someone named Vero, as she crawls up the ravine from the crashed car.

Investigators believe she is referring to a missing child and spend hours searching.

Wyatt Foster, a Sheriff’s deputy from the small county in New Hampshire, is on the case, along with Todd Reynes, who had been the nighttime duty officer. When they finally realize that the woman was alone in the car, they are even more stymied, as there is obviously a lot to unravel. About the woman, about her husband, and about why the woman is so confused.

Apparently she has sustained three concussions within a short period of time, resulting in Traumatic Brain Injury. They immediately focus suspicion on her husband, identified now as Thomas Frank, while she is Nicole Frank.

Tessa Leoni, who works for a private investigative company, and who we have met in previous novels, is also on the case, but she cannot share what she knows. At least not in the beginning.

As the story continues, a whole series of events begin to create even more havoc, adding further trails that are challenging to follow. Who is Vero? And what is Nicole’s connection to her? Who are Thomas and Nicole Frank, since they didn’t exist before the past twenty-two years, at least not with those names? Do Vero and Nicole have something to do with a missing child case from thirty years before? How do two burned houses figure into the mix?

As the threads of the mystery begin to come together, and just before they really start to make sense, we are thrust hither and yon, with various and sundry possibilities until we are also pretty confused. In the end, the questions are answered…but what now? Physical evidence and proof are lacking, leaving the investigators with little more than theories and a few facts. Definitely a compelling story that kept this reader turning pages…and giving this one 5 stars.

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