Blame by Jeff Abbott
Ready for another book? Need a good mystery that reads like jagged pieces of glass dumped in a wastebasket? That’s not a dis, that’s the reality of the main character, Jane Norton. The jagged pieces are her life, or the way her life has shattered since she lost her memory and her close friend in a car accident two years ago. Everyone’s sure it was her fault. Police reports and newspaper articles, and internet savages seem to confirm that.
Everybody blames her and with a severe loss of memory, she doesn’t know how to defend herself or which way to turn. Some people are nice to her, but most treat her as damaged and deranged goods.
But, there’s more to it than that. A lot more. The dead boy’s mother, who lives next door, hates her viciously. Jane’s schoolmates avoid her and often take their suspicions well past smirks and derogatory remarks in the hallway. David, the boy who was killed was a popular guy, with friends galore. His friends don’t forget. Then there’s the suicide note found in the car, a note that Jane wrote.
“I was your friend,” is heard often, as an accusation. Others put a positive spin on it. “I am your friend.” And at times the positive ones can turn out to be the most vicious.
A parade of characters romp through this engaging book and they all care and don’t care, believe her and don’t believe her. They think she couldn’t have done it on purpose, then turn on her like whirling dervishes. Without a memory, how do you defend yourself, and how do you even know if you should?
As Jane says, “Today I went to my friend’s grave. I went to the crash site. There were people there who don’t like me at all. The still blame me. They think it wasn’t an accident. One of them tried to hurt me. The other is smearing me online.” The accusations swirl around her and not even she knows what she did or if she did anything.
In my own life, I’ve had friends who were wrongly accused. Tough to defend yourself if you didn’t do it and know you didn’t do it, even if you have a full memory. What if you have no memory, or only thin shards of memory here and there, none of which fit together?
Maybe Jane is guilty of deliberately causing the accident. Her own mother seems to think so. Many of her classmates think so. Even some of her former friends, who want to believe her, think so. And often she thinks so.
The main thing that makes this book so engaging is not the originality of the plot. Memory loss, including complete memory loss is not uncommon in fiction. The main thing is the characters ring-true, even though the book is populated with college students, the wealthy, the middle class, the average, the intelligent, the conniving and the honest. And all of them are vital to the plot.
You hear the term page-turner bandied about so often it loses its impact. In the case of Blame, it’s warranted. I stayed up late, I got up early, I read through supper and with my morning coffee. Jane’s plight became my plight. I wanted to know, had to know. The questions pound at the reader: What would I do? Where would I turn?
And then comes the ending and in a swirling maelstrom of anger, action, blood, and revelation, against all odds, and through a series of devilish twists and turns, everything becomes clear. Somehow the jagged pieces of glass became a mirror that reflected the good, the evil, the darkness and the light.
Need a good mystery? You’ve just found one. Blame by Jeff Abbott.