Monday, August 25, 2014

Review: Phantom Instinct

Summary: When shots ring out in a crowded L.A. club, bartender Harper Flynn watches helplessly as her boyfriend, Drew, is gunned down in the cross fire. Then somebody throws a Molotov cocktail, and the club is quickly engulfed in flames. L.A. Sheriff Deputy Aiden Garrison sees a gunman in a hoodie and gas mask taking aim at Harper, but before he can help her a wall collapses, bringing the building down and badly injuring him.

A year later, Harper is trying to rebuild her life. She has quit her job and gone back to college. Meanwhile, the investigation into the shoot-out has been closed. The two gunmen were killed when the building collapsed.

Certain that a third gunman escaped and is targeting the survivors, Harper enlists the help of Aiden Garrison, the only person willing to listen. But the traumatic brain injury he suffered has cut his career short and left him with Fregoli syndrome, a rare type of face blindness that causes the delusion that random people are actually a single person changing disguises.

As Harper and Aiden delve into the case, Harper realizes that her presence during the attack was no coincidence—and that her only ally is unstable, mistrustful of her, and seeing the same enemy everywhere he looks. -- Dutton

I've been in the mood for a good suspense novel for some time, and Edgar award-winning author Meg Gardiner's latest PHANTOM INSTINCT fit the bill. This novel had some very likable characters   that were put in some interesting situations to say the least, and Ms. Gardiner's writing brought the book to the next level.

In PHANTOM INSTINCT, Harper Flynn is tending bar when men open fire on the bar's patrons. Then one of the men throws a Molotov cocktail setting the entire club on fire. Harper's boyfriend is shot in the crossfire and winds up dead despite Harper's best efforts to save him. Meanwhile, L.A. Sheriff Deputy Aiden Garrison witnesses the shootings prior to having the building fall down on him. Harper has no visible scars, but she is mourning the loss of her boyfriend; while Aiden has some serious neurological damage which affects his ability to be a policeman.

The story picks up a year later when both Harper and Aiden are trying to rebuild their lives. Both claim that they saw a third gunman who escaped, but the police don't believe them. In fact, the investigation is closed. Harper is trying to have the case reopened to no avail, so she asks Aiden for assistance.

Harper and Aiden work together to track down clues, and Harper begins to realize that maybe she was supposed to be a target in the attack or at the very least set up by the gunmen. She learns that the third gunmen in, in fact, very real and someone she knows from her past.

I really enjoyed PHANTOM INSTINCT... especially the first half of the novel. I loved how Ms. Gardiner described the attack in the nightclub in all its horror. She truly did a great job of bringing that horrific night to life for the reader. In addition, I really liked both Harper and Aiden and I felt that they were well developed characters. I appreciated the intrigue around what happened during the attack, and I thought Ms. Gardiner did a great job of building tension as the characters tried to discover the truth behind the shootings.

The second half of PHANTOM INSTINCT was extremely fast-paced, but I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the first half. It was basically one huge action packed sequence after another, and I thought the author did a good job of keeping the story moving while also creating even more excitement. I have to say that there were also a few major surprises that were pretty shocking, and I loved how they were revealed to the reader. While I know that the second half of the story was probably even more interesting than the first half, I actually liked getting to know the characters and the stories around them a bit more than the action scenes.

As far as mysteries go, the identity of the third gunman is revealed pretty early on so I don't know if I'd say that that aspect was a huge secret. There were a few other "mysteries" that were eventually revealed, but I actually considered this novel more of a suspense story or a thriller. Ms. Gardiner definitely had some surprises up her sleeve, and I think most readers will be shocked by what happens to both Harper and Aiden and a few others!

PHANTOM INSTINCT is a fast--paced thriller that sure to be a hit with readers who enjoy action-packed scenes and well-developed characters.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read. Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


Kim@Time2Read said...

It's been awhile since I read a good mystery. I might just pick this one up!

Beth F said...

I like suspense/thrillers -- I'll have to add this to my list.

bermudaonion said...

I need a fast paced book like this from time to time. It sounds good to me!