Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that were published over a year ago. Not to mention those that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.
Dana Nolan was a promising young TV reporter until she was kidnapped by a notorious serial killer. A year has passed since she survived the ordeal, but Dana is still physically, emotionally, and psychologically scarred, racked with bouts of post-traumatic stress disorder and memory loss. In an attempt to put herself back together after surviving the unthinkable, Dana returns to her hometown. But it doesn’t provide the comfort she expects: she struggles to recognise family and childhood friends and begins experiencing dark flashbacks. But she’s not sure if they’re truly memories or side effects of her brain injury.
Dana Nolan had beauty, brains and her dream job as a news anchor. Until the day her life changed forever. She was abducted by a serial killer, who abused and tortured her physically and mentally, and mutilated her face and body. Dana had an incredibly strong desire to live which is amazing given the circumstances and now, at home with her mother and stepfather after nearly a year of rehabilitation and recovery, has no memory of her abduction or how she acquired her terrible injuries. She is still suffering from the effects of a severe brain injury resulting in, among other things, an inability to retain information or remember events from her past.
The prologue is very harrowing as shown by the opening paragraphs…
She should have been dead. After everything he had put her through, she should have dies hours before. There had been many moments during the ordeal when she wished she would die, when she wished he would just end the unimaginable suffering he was inflicting on her.
He had done things to her she could never have imagined, would never wanted to know one human being could be capable of doing to another.
John Villante has also returned home to Shelby Mills after suffering brain trauma, resulting in post traumatic stress disorder, during active service in the military. John has no loving family to care for him, just a drunk and abusive father who John avoids as much as possible. Seeing John and her ex boyfriend, Tim Carver, who is now the county deputy, jolts Dana’s memory of her best high school friend, Casey, who went missing seven years previously.
Determined to piece together her memories in the hope of finding out what happened to Casey, Dana begins to experience disturbing memories from the time immediately prior to Casey’s disappearance. With help from Dan Hardy, the retired detective who was in charge of Casey’s case, Dana begins to piece together her memories. There are multiple suspects and someone doesn’t want the cold case solved and as the layers are peeled away, once again Dana faces a life or death situation.
This is my first Tami Hoag book and although it read like a novel of two halves, one being working through the process of recovery and the other a murder mystery, I will definitely look at previous works. The insight into the psychological scars Dana suffers and John’s PTSD symptoms have obviously been meticulously researched and really give an appreciation of the effects of such traumas. How the pre injury person is never the same as the post injury person. Dana describes herself as ‘before Dana’ and ‘after Dana’. Tami Hoag very realistically describes the emotions of a Traumatic Brain Injury survivor in great detail and gets right into Dana’s psyche. There’s a lot of description and detail throughout the story, which does get a little repetitive in some parts, but not enough to put me off. There was also a sub plot involving Roger, Dana’s stepfather that remained unresolved. A follow on, maybe?
I thought Julia Whelan did an excellent job with the narration, she has a very natural and easy to listen to style with good characterisation and emotional content.
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About the author
With fifteen consecutive New York Times bestsellers to her credit, Hoag has more than 35 million books in print, published in more than twenty languages worldwide. Her first thriller, Night Sins, was made into a two-part mini-series in 1997, and continues to air frequently on cable networks more than a decade later.
A competitive equestrian in the Olympic discipline of dressage, Tami currently lives in Palm Beach County, Florida, where she competes her horses on the prestigious winter show circuit.