In Shapiro’s debut thriller, a teenager miraculously survives a suspicious plane crash.
Attorney Andy Michaels is understandably upset when news shows report that there are no survivors from the crash of commuter jet Flight 310, on which flew Andy’s brother, Ron, and Ron’s wife, as well as Andy’s 17-year-old niece, Amanda. But Amanda, as it turns out, is still alive. The girl, whose brain injury renders her an amnesiac, becomes a media darling, but she’s secretly bothered by a mental image of four Dorothys (the Oz kind) that feels more like a memory than, as her doctor suggests, a fantasy concocted from her near-death experience. Amanda’s distraught when someone she’s close to is found dead from an apparent overdose. But she and pal David think that the suspicious death, along with the plane crash, has something to do with Ron’s classified research at Biological Blood Services. This riveting mystery adds numerous elements that deliciously perplex, such as the feds asking a judge to OK electronic surveillance of Amanda, Andy and even hospital volunteer Kent Perless, who was in Amanda’s room when she emerged from her coma. Likewise, Amanda suffers minimal blood loss despite “multiple traumas,” and the airline seems too eager to settle a civil suit, offering a sizable settlement for all families affected by the crash. Some subplots, however, go astray. Amanda’s aunt, Barbara, for instance, has her niece committed to a psych ward, where Amanda meets Brittney, who later agrees to tutor the girl so Amanda doesn’t have to return to school. It’s certainly a curious turn, but it doesn’t have much relevance to the main plot. Other details, like a mole whose identity, purpose and employers aren’t divulged until very late in the story, don’t generate suspense since Amanda isn’t, as far as the readers can tell, in any danger. The book, however, takes a drastic but welcome turn as it nears the end, churning out a number of impressive twists all the way until the last few pages.
A quiet thriller—a little too quiet at times—that ignites in the final act.