In Apseloff’s (Overdose, 2013, etc.) medical thriller, a doctor finds that recent strange events, such as his inability to remember an entire day, connect to his all-expenses-paid trip to Italy.
Dr. Jake Warner would much rather forget Alicia. She walked into the emergency room, her foot severed, with a gun and her dead father’s diary in her handbag. He plans to use psychiatrist Dr. Abrams’ “memory ablation,” which was used elsewhere to wipe a patient’s memory of watching his wife bleed to death from a car accident. When Jake wins a sweepstakes for a European vacation—strangely, it’s courtesy of a grocery store chain called Colossus—it sounds too good to be true. Maybe it is. He starts seeing a correlation between what happened to Lyle, Alicia’s father, who couldn’t remember 10 years of his life, and his own new situation, starting with Colossus’ peculiar “rules,” including limited communication with the outside world. The book moves forward with impressive momentum: Jake, a resident, moves from his ER rotation to the psych ward; he’s only there for a week before asking for two weeks off and flying to Milan. The story piles on the questions, from why Alicia was carrying a gun to why Charlotte, the British model Jake meets on the plane, seems a little too interested in him. Jake meets another woman, this one an American, Tykeria, and he’s smitten; their romance is coupled with the intrigue of solving the mystery of Lyle’s diary, in which he detailed dreams that seem to be coded interpretations of his lost memories. Amid the abundance of plot twists, the story features a number of unnerving moments, including Charlotte’s obsession over Jake, a stranger trying to access Tykeria’s hotel door, Tykeria and Jake’s thinking that they’re being followed, and more than one seemingly inexplicable death. Apseloff unravels the surprises one, maybe two, at a time and keeps everything from becoming a jumbled mess. By the end, most but not all of the questions are resolved, with a coda that readers, unlike Lyle, won’t forget.
Like running up a spiral staircase—you might see where it’s going, but the twists will leave you dizzy.