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Book review: <i>Crash & Burn</i> by Lisa Gardner

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the cover of the book

Nicky Thomas wakes up in hospital after a car accident and doesn’t recognise her husband, or remember anything aside from the fact that her little girl, Vero, is missing. However, the police think something suspicious is afoot, particularly when they can find no record of a child in Nicky’s life. Can Nicky recover her memories and uncover her past, laying her ghosts to rest?

The story

Nicky Thomas has had three accidents in six months. A couple of falls, perhaps she’s a bit clumsy. Her latest accident was far worse, and exacerbated an already aggressive head injury: a car accident while drunk, her car plunged down an escarpment and she was lucky to survive. When she woke, all she could think of was Vero, the little girl she knew was lost and needed to save.

Her husband Thomas seems to be overly protective, but police officers Kevin and Wyatt think there might be something rotten in the relationship. Three accidents in such a short space of time seem suspicious, combined with an imaginary daughter, and Wyatt suspects possible domestic violence. Unfortunately, Nicky doesn’t seem to remember anything about her life, husband, or past.

As Wyatt digs into Nicky’s past he comes up with some troubling information, including the fact that Nicky hired a private detective without the knowledge of her husband. When Nicky’s fingerprints come back from the car accident, it turns out she isn’t who she says she is – or is she? She doesn’t remember. Wyatt and Kevin take her back to the scene of the accident to try and prompt her memories, but it’s very difficult for Nicky to remember what she was running from, or to. She is running from something, though, which Wyatt realises has put Nicky’s life in danger. Can a police officer and a person with no memory figure out Nicky’s past before it catches up with her?

The style

Out of sheer coincidence this is the second head-injury book I’ve read in a matter of weeks (the first one being Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag) and I now feel very experienced at head injuries, I must say. Crash & Burn is a nice, easy read, with a bit of poetic flair in the style and great pacing. The storyline has all the twists and turns a reader could possibly want, and just when you think you have it figured out Gardner changes the game and there’s a new dimension to the story.

The characterisation is also very good; there are about six major characters and each of them are given due care in their development and dimensionality. While Nicky’s head injury isn’t quite as detailed in research as the last head-injury story I read, it was certainly convincing, and Nicky’s frustration at her loss of memory and piecing together of dreams and other information was great. The development of the suspense means that while we see each of the major characters in action, the ones we are most privy to are Nicky and Wyatt. Wyatt is also well crafted and sympathetic, and the reader is definitely invested in the success of both Nicky and Wyatt by the end of the book.

To sum up Crash and Burn is very well written and compelling to read, and a credit to the standard American thriller genre.

Who is this book for?

This is basically the ultimate holiday read for people who love the crime/thriller genre but don’t want to deal with anything too heavy-going. Any keen reader could fly through this story in no time flat.

If you like this book, you would also like...

Turns out Lisa Gardner has written several other novels, although I haven’t read them so I can’t vouch for them personally. After reading Crash & Burn though, I would definitely pick up another one of Lisa Gardner’s books and give it a go.


In short

Title: Crash and Burn
Author: Lisa Gardner
Publisher: Dutton
ISBN: 0525954562
Year published: 2015
Pages: 400
Genre(s): Thriller, Fiction
Review Type: