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Tami Hoag has been writing nail biting thrillers for years, but takes a different turn here, while fans will recognize some series characters in minor roles. While the suspense is high, the stakes are even higher as Hoag delves into traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dana Nolan is a TV reporter who is kidnapped and tortured by a serial killer, Doc Holiday – until she kills him. She suffers a traumatic brain injury in addition to a host of other injuries, and her physical recovery takes close to a year, but her psychological recovery will take much longer. The news reporter is now the news story, and she considers herself as “Before Dana” and “After Dana,” as if she were two different people.

Her family works hard to help her learn to live a more independent life, but she soon realizes that she needs goals in order to move ahead. She starts by trying to re-learn her own life, reading her old journal from high school, and slowly her memories start coming back. The summer before college, her best friend Casey disappeared and was never heard from again, and as Dana looks at her own life, she also looks at Casey’s life.

Casey’s old boyfriend, who was always under a cloud of suspicion surrounding Casey’s disappearance, is back in town, now a veteran and suffering from PTSD and a brain injury. Seven years have passed, and as these two damaged people try to find ways to live a normal life under the most difficult of circumstances, the old mystery gives them focus – he to prove his innocence, and she to find out what happened to her friend.

This unusual look at the serial killer genre is a most welcome exploration of traumatic brain injury and what it is like to be a survivor.

Copyright ©2015 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

1/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

COLD COLD HEART by Tami Hoag. Dutton Adult (January 13, 2015). ISBN 978-0525954545. 3684p.

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