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Thursday, September 10, 2015

She’s Not There by P. J. Parrish

Thomas & Mercer, 382 pages, $15.95

Evil twin/good twin and amnesia are a couple of favorite women-in-jeopardy storylines (and especially were when made-for-television movies were more prevalent). One of them is used in “She’s Not There,” by sisters Kristy Montee and Kelly Nichols, writing under the pen name of P. J. Parrish. Here’s a hint: There are no twins in the story.

What P. J. Parrish does well is move a story along. This is evident in their Louis Kincaid series, and it is evident in what I assume is the first in a new series. The authors have now created “Amelia Brody,” an intelligent, self-sufficient female protagonist … who has amnesia. Clay Buchanan, a skip tracer with a sketchy background, is sent to find her when she leaves the hospital in a panic.

As Amelia’s memory gradually returns, she pieces together some important details of her life, but none that will answer why she feels afraid and why she is being hunted. Good storytellers pose lots of questions (but not too many) and gradually answer them (if we’re lucky). So…

What is she running from? Is her husband a good guy or a bad guy, and is he even her husband? If he is good, why did she run from the hospital after hearing his voice? How will she survive in a muddy little black dress, with no money, and with cuts and bruises over her body? Why was Clay Buchanan really hired to find her?

Except for a couple of head-scratching deus ex machina pieces to help the mystery along, it’s a pretty good book with a likable heroine and some likeable transient, warm-hearted, regular people who help Amelia along. (And the villain(s) is villainous.)

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