Author: Meg GardinerSummary: 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. ~powells.com
Publication Date: June 26, 2014
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Bottom Line: Not my favorite heroine but still an well executed, fast-paced novel
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Review: I'm not usually ambivalent about my heroines and especially the ones that Meg Gardiner writes, but with Harper Flynn, I'm still on the fence. It's not that she's unlikable, it's just that I'm not so sure I trust her. I don't know why, but with this one Ms. Gardiner has planted a seed of distrust between Harper and I, even if it was completely unintentional.
Phantom Instinct is about running away from your past only to have it catch up with you in the worst way. It is about seeing the enemy when the enemy isn't there and dealing with the fallout of your actions. Harper and Aiden are thrown together when a year after the attack at the club she's looking for answers and Aiden, a former LA Sheriff Deputy, is the only one who shares her vision of a third attacker. The only problem is that Aiden has seizures that makes him see the phantom shooter in random people. You just know that in the thick of it, this will come back to somehow bite Harper and Aiden in the butt.
As the layers are peeled back, we find out that there is much more to Harper than meets the eye. Although, I found it more intriguing that there was more to her than just a bartender in the wrong place at the wrong time. Aiden isn't all that he seems either.
What I thoroughly enjoyed about Phantom Instinct was the twists. One made me go "ah-ha" and the other one made me go "Oh Sh&t!" I always love it when an author can still surprise me and Ms. Gardiner hasn't lost that touch. I enjoyed the high-octane of the final few chapters for they definitely kept me on the edge of my seat and wondering what the outcome was going to be.
With this one, Ms. Gardiner has definitely left the door wide open for a sequel. I'll be interested to see if she revisits Harper and Aiden sooner rather than later.
While Phantom Instinct isn't my favorite Meg Gardiner, she still shines as one of my "go-to" thriller/mystery writers.