by Meg Gardiner
Genres: Mystery, Suspense thriller
In Edgar Award winning author Meg Gardiner’s new stand-alone thriller, an injured cop and an ex-thief hunt down a killer nobody else believes exists. 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.
There is nothing like a good thriller to get your heart racing as the world slips away, and you become completely absorbed in the characters and their fates. Phantom Instinct by Meg Gardiner was one heck of a heart-stopping thriller with fleshed out characters and a climatic ending that had me holding my breath.
Five reasons to grab an iced coffee and curl up with Phantom Instinct:
1. Phantom Instinct is a heart-stopping mystery with twists and turns that will keep you flipping the pages until the wee hours of the night. Harper Flynn is a college student working as a bartender when all hell breaks loose as gunman take out patrons and her boyfriend becomes caught in the crossfire. Then the unthinkable happens and a Molotov cocktail is thrown into the crowd. L.A. Sheriff, Aiden Garrison sees a gunman taking aim at Harper, as a collapsing wall badly injures him. The tale moves forward a year and the police consider the case closed believing both shooters died in the fire. Harper knows there was a third shooter and he is still out there. The tale that unfolds reveals secrets and deadly games.
2. Harper is a fearless heroine with a multitude of badass skills. She is a curiosity from her skills to her tenacious need to seek the truth, and protect. Her kick-ass, take no prisoners’ attitude made her character one I easily connected with. Gardnier did a wonderful job of relaying Harper’s back-story and endearing her to the reader.
3. Our hero Aiden Garrison has suffered a traumatic brain injury from the night of the fire. He too believes there was a third shooter but spent months in the hospital recovering and sadly, not even his partner thinks the third shooter is real. His career was cut short when he was diagnosed with Fregoli syndrome. A rare disorder that makes him suspect total strangers are actually someone else in disguise. Aiden is strong, proud, and determined. I enjoyed interactions with him. While Harper gets most of the spotlight Aiden is a powerful presence.
4. Gardiner created strong, exciting and colorful secondary characters from Aiden’s partner to the perps behind the shooting. While they were not as developed as Aiden and Flynn, Gardiner brought them to life and gave them each a distinct voice. She tied characters, places and events together seamlessly weaving in all of the players.
5. Action, suspense, and goose bumps are all wrapped into Phantom Instinct. The main plot is unraveling and stopping the third shooter and the diabolical plan that is in play, but we get a slow-building sweet romance that enhances the reader’s enjoyment. The ending was intense with nail-biting action that had me trying to catch my breath. Gardiner made it feel very realistic and did not squelch on the details.
Phantom Instinct is a standalone and had all of the elements I crave in a good thriller. An engaging plot that kept me up reading just one more chapter.
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