Alison Gaylin's "Excellence" Adventure — RT's Liz French Meets The Author

RT Managing Editor Liz French (left) with author Alison Gaylin

Allow me to gloat just a little bit here. I love living in New York! Well, at least this week I do. I went to see March Seal of Excellence winner Alison Gaylin sign and read from her bestselling suspense novel, And She Was, Tuesday at NYC’s Mysterious Bookshop, and fell in love with the author's new heroine all over again.

Brenna Spector has some weird neurological condition, which Alison actually pronounced several times last night but I can’t wrap my mind around. I’m going to call it thingamajig syndrome. Here’s the gist: Brenna Spector remembers EVERYTHING, all five senses engaged, every damn detail. Of every day in her life since her sister disappeared one day when Brenna was 11. Yeah. Heavy! The good memories, the bad memories ... why her marriage broke up, the pain of childbirth, what kind of tie her therapist was wearing in 1985 ... so, perfect syndrome for a PI to have, right?

Well, sometimes it is. Brenna has her foibles and fallibilities and those memory rushes can and do interfere when she’s trying to track down missing persons. Like young Iris, a 6-year-old who walked away from a suburban barbeque one day more than a decade ago. Or Carol, Iris’ neighbor, who goes missing 11 years after Iris disappeared. Brenna, assisted by her hilarious sidekick, Trent, tries to track down both parties. I loved this book, and the heroine, so much! Alison writes so well and so evocatively and though the subject is dark and the narrative gripping and thrilling, there are some hilarious scenes. I could post the whole description of clueless Trent and his nipple rings and fake tan, but I won’t. I also could easily excerpt the scene where Brenna ineptly tries to use a smart phone in a library “quiet room” and is nearly shushed to death by a super-uptight librarian, but again, I won’t. I will just urge one and all to pick up And She Was ASAP!

Alison read from the book Tuesday night, and discussed future titles. She was joined at Mysterious Bookshop by author Hal Ackerman, whose second Harry Stein mystery, Stein, Stung has former hippie and merry prankster Harry sleuthing big-honeybee business and skullduggery in California.

Some luminaries in the audience were: Jason Starr, author of The Pack, and its upcoming sequel, The Craving; Megan Abbott, author of the chilling, ‘80s-set The End of Everything, as well as four 1950s-set noir gems (just check out her website, it’s much quicker) and fantasy author Sarah Micklem, who wrote Firethorn and Wildfire

- Liz French

Author Hal Ackerman with a fan
  Authors Megan Abbott and Alison Gaylin

You can pick up a copy of And She Was, available now. For more genre news and coverage head over to our Everything Mystery/Suspense/Thriller Page.