18 SECONDS by George Shuman

What an original thriller! The storyline is simple enough: a blind woman who suffered massive head trauma as a child has the extraordinary capacity to ‘see’ the last 18 seconds of a dead person’s life by touching their corpse. However, what she sees is not necessarily coherent – in the period of time right before a person dies, a host of memories come flooding back that are more or less unintelligible to a stranger. But Sherry Moore has had success with her gift, and has helped solve numerous mysteries, most archaeological or historical, but also some recent crimes. Her good friend and confidant John Payne, a detective, is her main source of contact to the outside world, and the one who keeps her connected to a world she chooses to shy away from.

Kelly O’Shaughnessy is dealing with issues of a completely different nature. She has recently separated from her husband of seven years after he revealed he cheated on her at a work conference. She is the lieutenant, recently promoted, and is having a hard time with some subordinate men who can’t handle working under a woman. What she does not need is the disappearance of the daughter of a high profile community member. To make matters worse, the investigation comes to a dead halt when no evidence or suspects present themselves. When another girl goes missing, O’Shaughnessy is put under even more pressure as press awareness of the disappearances grows. A massive break comes when a trace of evidence is found on one of the victims’ valuables. The evidence points the case in a number of directions, but which is the right one?

What O’Shaughnessy and her team don’t realise is that a far more sinister plan is underway. A dying prisoner named Earl Skykes has just been released and has no intention of living his dying days quietly. Sykes has a troubled past, one he was never convicted of, and he’s set on getting revenge on those who took him away from his life. An unrelated traffic incident sent him behind bars, but Sykes’ preference for young women should have had him locked away for life. Tying up loose ends and getting his ultimate revenge is his aim, and when links between cases push Moore and O’Shaughnessy together, will they pay the ultimate price to solve crimes that span decades?

A brilliant novel! I can’t wait to read the rest of the novels in this exciting series. The character development definitely eluded to a string of sequels, and Shuman’s follow up novels have just climbed higher on my ‘to-read’ list.

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