Dani and her two best friends, Alice and Joy, are all set for their last big adventure together before they head off into the real world. That is, until Alice’s parents decide they should take Paige, Alice’s younger and underage sister, along for the trip. What worries Dani most is that this is the trip she was planning to come out to her friends, and now Paige, who Dani thinks she might be attracted to, is going to be there.
And then Paige suddenly goes missing. With no trace whatsoever. Dani and her friends try desperately to find Paige, but when they can’t, it’s apparent Paige is gone for good. But Dani can’t accept that, and gives up her entire life plan to become a Police Officer and continue her private search for Paige.
And then, one day, while following a lead in another missing person case, there she is. Or at least there is her physical self. Paige, now known as Peggy, remembers nothing of the last time she saw Dani, and has a completely different version of her life and the events leading up to her disappearance.
Can Dani and Paige piece together the truth, and make sense of all that is in their past? And what of their futures?
Dani is first introduced to us as a young woman on the cusp of a new life following college, about to come out to her closest friends. Years on, Dani is a Police Officer on a personal crusade to find the girl who disappeared and scarred her forever. For me, there is just enough plausibility in Dani to make her character work. She is that part of all of us that has lost someone and never truly recovered, despite appearing to have moved on. I enjoyed the development of Dani as a character, and by the end of the book I found Dani a really endearing woman with lots of qualities to like. She is tenacious and single minded in her work, yet she is considerate and patient with Paige, and like Dani I felt a sense of calm whenever she was with Paige, and a sense of disquiet when she wasn’t.
We meet Paige as a young woman about to head off to college, sure of her identity and her path in life. It is this certainty and strength of character that sets up the premise of Paige recalling any of her past life later in the story, and Winkes has managed to make it believable enough that I found myself admiring Paige the character, and Winkes the author all at the same time. Paige was my favourite character right from the start, with the confidence she shows early on endearing her to me immediately. As the story moves from her disappearance to her reappearance, it becomes clear that Paige is a special kind of woman.
The other initial characters, Alice and Joy, don’t play a major part in the story line. Later the other characters to come into the story are mostly law enforcement, and without spoilers, one in particular really surprised me and made me question just how well I know the people on the periphery of my life. All really well written characters, easy to place in the real world. Which is terrifying.
The Writing Style
This book is another fine example of the twisty, dark sort of story lines Barbara Winkes is known for. The pacing is excellent, ensuring this is a quick read because it can’t be put down. Despite the complexity of some of the content (think neurology and medical procedures) the language is all easily understood, and the flow of the book is easy and relatively light (given the content) because of this.
This was my first narration by TJ Richards, and I would gladly do it all again. The characters were well defined, especially as there was several parts of the book that had loads of dialogue. The pace was great, and I found it a very easy listen, even when the content wasn’t particularly pleasant.
I loved that The Amnesia Project at first glance seems totally far-fetched, but the more you read, the more terrifyingly plausible it becomes. While it is a suspenseful romance rather than an out-and-out thriller, the romance doesn’t get in the way of the suspense at all, and this is a really well balanced book.
A key element of the whole premise is men controlling women, and at times violence is used to achieve this. There is nothing too graphic along these lines, but it is clearly there, so if that’s a total no go for you, this book probably isn’t for you.
This book is yet another suspense filled gem from Barbara Winkes. Strong characters who build as the story builds, and a premise that is terrifying because you know it could happen, and maybe does. Started off as something approximating YA, but most definitely falls into the suspenseful romance type of book that we have come to expect from Winkes, with a solid dystopian twist. A genuinely great read with a complex web of storylines that will leave you guessing right until the end. 5 star read!
Whether you read this book, or listen to it, it is worth doing. The audio brings a different dimension to the story, and TJ Richards has done a quality job on bring the characters to life.
Excerpt from The Amnesia Project by Barbara Winkes
“I came because I had reason to assume Caitlyn Hoyt was living here. Obviously, the situation got out of control quickly.”
“Why didn’t you tell us earlier that you suspected her to have run away from home?”
I frowned at the detective’s wording, but I had something to save me. Tonight, I wouldn’t back down.
“I was hoping Caitlyn would trust me enough to talk to me—”
“Which didn’t work out.”
“But I’m surprised you don’t know. When I found the Gellers’ phone number, detectives from our Missing Persons department followed up first.”
It was his turn to look surprised.
“We never heard from your people,” he insisted. “Besides, if you thought they were here first, why did you come on your own?”
“Because the missing women seem to be related to a case I’m investigating.”
“Suicide,” I said, growing impatient with him questioning me. “Do you recognize any of those women?”
“Katie Geller, obviously,” the policewoman said. “And this is Annie. She’s in my yoga class,” she added, her tone apologetic as if that was something to be embarrassed about.
I pointed to Paige.
“Have you ever seen her?”
None of the local cops could confirm.
“All right. My partner will be here in a little while, but we don’t have to wait for her. Let’s go.”
“If you allow,” the male detective said. “I’ll take the lead on this. This is a well respected community, and if we must disturb them in the middle of the night, we damn well better be careful about it.”
“Why, what are they going to do?”
He didn’t give me an answer.
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Bits and Bobs
- Publisher: Indie author
- Audiobook Publisher: Independent
- Narrator: TJ Richards
Barbara Winkes Online
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