cover image Lest She Forget

Lest She Forget

Lisa Malice. CamCat, $27.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7443-0715-3

In Malice’s far-fetched debut, a woman wakes up in a long-term treatment facility after a car accident, suffering from “global psychogenic amnesia”—a fugue state that results from “a severe psychological shock,” according to her psychiatrist. Kay Smith (a name the woman’s taken on courtesy of her rescuer) remembers nothing about the accident nor any details of her former life. Incredibly, Smith’s doctor urges her to wait a few days before “going to the authorities”; even more incredibly, she complies, and starts using the internet to try jogging her memory. What begins as a tale of psychological suspense quickly turns into a full-bore thriller when a visitor to the facility chats Smith up, setting her on edge with his suspicious eagerness to help her remember her past, and readers are subsequently introduced to Felix Jager, a former agent of a “clandestine intelligence service” ordered to ensure his “target” (Smith) is neutralized. Gradually, the stakes become much more significant—and political—as answers drip out about who Smith is and why power brokers might want her dead. Malice’s prose is mostly solid (if a bit florid), but any suspense she generates is marred by clumsy, contrived plotting, including a ludicrous twist that sucks the air out of the denouement. This brings nothing new to the well-trod territory of amnesiac thrillers. (Dec.)