cover image Phantom Instinct

Phantom Instinct

Meg Gardiner. Dutton, $26.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-525-95431-6

Fans of tough-to-kill heroines and thrillers in the Dirty Harry tradition will best appreciate this standalone from Edgar-winner Gardiner (The Shadow Tracer). Harper Flynn, who’s trying to bury her sordid past, is lucky to survive the attack on Xenon, the L.A. club where she tends bar; her boyfriend, Drew Westerman, was fatally shot. Aiden Garrison, a sheriff’s detective suffering from a rare career-ending psychological injury that makes him confuse people’s appearances, took out two gunmen at the scene, but he’s sure another escaped. Together, Aiden and Harper pursue this third man and his vicious attack dog through a protracted series of red herrings, gruesome deaths by dog and sledgehammer, and bloody shoot-’em-ups. Gardiner tries hard to temper terror with steamy romance and a secondary character who is a computer hacker, but a climactic pursuit that lasts more than 100 pages feels like overkill, while a dramatic revelation by Drew’s obnoxious teenage sister, Piper, fails to convince. Agent: Deborah Schneider, Gelfman Schneider Literary Agents. (June)