Brenna Spector

Created by Alison Gaylin

“Honest to God, this whole place could benefit from a good, long liquid nitrogen bath.”
— Brenna’s evidently not a big fan of Las Vegas
“Hyperthymestic, that’s what you are…”

Certainly one of the most hyped books to cross my transom in the winter of 2011/12 was Alison Gaylin’s And She Was, which introduced New York missing persons investigator BRENNA SPECTOR. It came packed with gushing endorsements and effusive praise from such luminaries as Lee Child, Laura Lippman, Lisa Gardner and Harlan Coben, and was offered at an “unbeatable price.”

But just to make sure the hook was set, the paperback original was sent to critics and reviewers in a suspiciously large, black plastic envelope with an over-sized milk carton in it, complete with said blurbs, a picture of a missing child and an author’s note on “Hyperthymestic Syndrome,” the affliction Brenna suffers from, printed on its sides.

Creepy, but effective.

According to Gaylin, “Hyperthymestic Syndrome is quite real, but rare, with only a handful of cases known to exist since its introduction in medical journals in 2006.”

“The condition has been described as perfect autobiographical memory — the ability to call up any date of one’s life and remember it, in full, with all five senses. Though some with hyperthymestic syndrome can compartmentalize these memories, keeping them tightly locked within a type of mental filing cabinet, others — like Brenna — find themselves plagued by frequent, random intrusions of the past.”

This condition allows Brenna to be a particularly empathetic investigator, especially when it comes to missing children — since Brenna still recalls, in perfect detail, the day her own older sister, Clea, stepped into a stranger’s car and vanished off the face of the earth over twenty-five years ago.

Of course, in Brenna’s debut, And She Was, the first in a trilogy, the past comes rushing back when she takes on a case that involves a “missing woman, a little girl… and herself.”It’s certainly intriguing, and Brenna’s past–and the facts surrounding Clea’s disappearance–continue to unravel throughout the trilogy. Fans of Lippman’s standalones will definitely dig this one.



Alison Gaylin is the author of the Edgar-nominated thriller Hide Your Eyes, as well as its sequel, You Kill Me, and several stand-alone novels, including Trashed and Heartless. A graduate of Northwestern University and Columbia Universityís Graduate School of Journalism, Alison lives with her family in upstate New York. Recently she’s been chosen to continue the adventures of the late Robert B. Parker’s Sunny Randall, the first time the series has been written by a woman. Long overdue, but I’m really looking forward to what she does with the series.


A giant milk carton with a missing kid on it, mailed to unsuspecting reviewers as a tool to flog a crime novel?




Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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