Brenna Spector
Created by Alison Gaylin

"Honest to God, this whole place could benefit from
a good, long liquid nitrogen bath."

Brenna's evidently not a big fan of Las Vegas

Certainly one of the most hyped books to cross my transom in the winter of 2011/12, Alison Gaylin's And She Was (2012), which introduces New York missing persons investigator BRENNA SPECTOR, came packed with glowing endorsements and effusive praise from such luminaries as Lee Child, Laura Lippman, Lisa Gardner and Harlan Coben.

But just to further make sure the hook was set, the paperback original came in a suspiciously large, black plastic envelope with an over-sized milk carton in it, complete with said blurbs, a picture of a missing child and an author's note on Hyperthymestic Syndrome, the affliction Brenna suffers from, printed on its sides.

According to Gaylin, "Hyperthymestic Syndrome is quite real, but rare, with only a handful of cases known to exist since its introduction in medical journals in 2006.

"The condition has been described as perfect autobiographical memory -- the ability to call up any date of one's life and remember it, in full, with all five senses. Though some with hyperthymestic syndrome can compartmentalize these memories, keeping them tightly locked within a type of mental filing cabinet, others -- like Brenna -- find themselves plagued by frequent, random intrusions of the past."

This condition allows Brenna to be a particularly empathetic investigator, especially when it comes to missing children -- since Brenna still recalls, in perfect detail, the day her own older sister stepped into a stranger's car and vanished off the face of the earth.

Of course, in Brenna's debut, And She Was, the first in a trilogy, the past comes rushing back when she takes on a case that involves a "missing woman, a little girl... and herself."

It's certainly intriguing, and a quick skim suggests fans of Lippman's standalones will definitely dig this one.

But sheesh! A giant milk carton with a missing kid on it mailed to unsuspecting reviewers as a tool to flog a crime novel?

There's something sorta creepy about it, or at least potentially, staggeringly insensitive.

Can you imagine someone who's suffered the disappearance of a child receiving that little treasure in the mail?

Alison Gaylin is the author of the Edgar-nominated thriller Hide Your Eyes, as well as its sequel, You Kill Me, and two stand-alone novels, Trashed and Heartless. A graduate of Northwestern University and Columbia Universityís Graduate School of Journalism, Alison lives with her husband and daughter in upstate New York.


Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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