The Memory Collector

Monday, July 13, 2009

The second book in the Jo Beckett series, following Dirty Secrets Club, by Meg Gardiner does not disappoint and, in fact, may have been even better!

Jo is a forensic psychiatrist who studies the past lives of the dead to determine if their death was a homicide or a suicide and to find what led up to it. At the beginning of The Memory Collector, however, she is called as part of her on-call rotation to help the airport with a man who has become erratic on the plane. They have safely landed, but not before the man made multiple attempts to open the emergency exit while in flight. The authorities hope that Jo can "section 5150" the man. (Here in Florida that's know as a Baker Act -- when a person is involuntarily admitted to a mental health treatment facility for up to 72 hours). When Jo arrives at the scene, she realizes the man is having some memory loss -- specifically anterograde amnesia -- meaning he can no longer form new memories. He is then rushed to the hospital.

All Jo is able to learn from the man is that he was returning from a business trip to Africa. Later, just before the man flees from the hospital, Jo realizes the man has a hit list of people on his arm. She then has to decipher the few things she has learned from him to try and find out what he's after. At the same time, she has to work with law enforcement to find him and prevent him from killing anyone on his list. The mystery intensifies and becomes more complex and there starts to be a lot of talk about bioweapons and research. Jo has to use what she has to find out what happened to the man to cause his anterograde amnesia -- did he do it to himself? Did someone else do this? And why is he out to kill?

Gardiner expertly weaves together a complex mystery with suspense and character development. The plot was fast-paced but I still felt like I had enough details to make everything seem real. The first half of the book introduced all the different aspects of the story. The first 30-40 pages left me a little confused, but it wasn't anything that I couldn't understand when I focused on it. Once I got a handle on what was happening, the pace picked up and almost the entire second half of the book was non-stop action and suspense. I'll admit I did wonder if it was realistic how easily the man adjusted to his memory loss. I stopped a few times to think about whether someone would really catch on as easily as he did every 5 minutes when he had to start over. BUT, again he was already in a dangerous situation before he lost his ability to form new memories, so each time he had to start over, he was prepared to continue with what he had already started. There were also some comical elements such as the continuing story with Jo's crazy neighbor, Ferd, and his pet monkey, Mr. Peebles. I have to say Ferd is growing on me and I liked his character in this book. I still love Jo Beckett's character and Amy Tang, the lieutenant. Their interactions also provide comic relief. And Jo's back story continues with her personal life, but it's done in a way that is not so predictable or maudlin. I I gave this book 5 stars and I can't wait for the next in the series!


Miel Abeille said...

I wish your review wasn't so good because I really can't afford to be adding to Mt. TBR! But, this one sounds like it's right up my alley! Eeek! Too many books, never enough time! Ugh. I need to get off the 'net and my nose in a book pronto!

Jenny said...

I completely understand, lol!! But this author is really good so it might be worth bumping a couple of other books. ;)

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