In Aurello’s debut mystery, a woman with traumatic memory loss is accused of murder.
Jane Jensen, 25 years old, is a successful information technology specialist for a company based in midtown Manhattan. She’s always been socially awkward, unstylishly attired, and overweight, and in high school, she suffered for all these traits. One day, she’s in a car accident that results in a severe brain injury, causing her to lose more than half of her long-term memories. She also loses 30 pounds, gets her nose reconstructed, and starts a friendship with a cool co-worker, Melanie “Mel” Bartholomew—but then she’s arrested for the murder of her neighbor, Cate Caldwell. Jane had gone to school with Cate’s handsome husband, Mason, on whom she had a crush. Jane’s memory is so poor, however, that she’s unsure if she’s responsible for Cate’s death or not. To complicate matters, the lead detective on the case, Rob Fitzgibbons, begins a relationship with Mel—even though he’s as convinced of Jane’s guilt as Mel is of her innocence. Some physical evidence powerfully implicates Jane, but there’s also reason to believe that she’s been framed. As her memory gradually returns, Jane’s troubled high school years provide a backdrop for the story. Aurello deftly draws out how teenage social hierarchies can have consequences later in adult life and effectively portrays fallen high school stars, old grievances, and imperishable insecurities. Although this is a complex tale, it’s never difficult to parse, as the prose is consistently clear throughout. Readers will be repeatedly surprised as the story goes on, but the plot’s unpredictability comes at the expense of its believability. It also develops at a lethargic pace, particularly in the novel’s first half. However, Aurello still provides plenty of excitement and intrigue in this suspenseful murder mystery.
An entertaining, inventive crime drama despite its implausibility.