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By Jeff Abbott

Dutton, August, 2006 ($24.95)
ISBN-10: 0-525-94972-0

Reviewed by Shirley H. Wetzel

What if you could forget the worst moment of your life? That question is at the heart of this story. In this dangerous and violent world, countless millions suffer from PTSD in the aftermath of war, crimes, and natural disasters. Many would give just about anything to make the memories go away. There are those, too, who would do just about anything to tap into a resource that would bring them fortune, with or without fame.

Miles Kendrick had a pretty normal life until his father died and he discovered that dear old dad was into the Mob for a pretty hefty amount. They made him an offer he couldn't refuse: give up the family business or go to work for them. After awhile, his guilty conscience led him to go to the FBI. In a sting that went very wrong, Miles shot and killed his best friend Andy. Now in the witness protection program, waiting to testify against the bad guys, Miles is trying to build a new life in Santa Fe. One big problem - Andy is still around, heckling, taunting, and always accusing. Miles is seeing a psychiatrist, Allison Vance, but he hasn't told her the whole story. He decides to tell all, writes it all out, and goes to her office to deliver the letter. A strange man comes into her office, Dr. James Sorenson, and Allison tells Miles -- or Michael, as she knows him -- that the man has a new program that can help those suffering from PTSD. Miles instinctively dislikes and distrusts the man, and soon finds he has good reason for his feelings. After someone close to him is murdered, he goes on the run again, trying to bring justice to the victim while he tries to stay alive.

The good guys and the bad guys are sometimes hard to tell apart, and even change places every so often. Ex-FBI agent Denis Groote can morph from a loving, devoted father to a cold-blooded killer who stamps out lives as casually as if they were bugs in his quest to obtain the drug that can bring his daughter back to him. A mentally disturbed ex-soldier and a reality show winner turned agoraphobic team up with him, more or less willingly, as they follow the trail to their own form of salvation.

This is Abbott's second thriller, after his award-winning PANIC, and he is making a name for himself in this genre. I do kind of miss his first series, featuring the small town librarian Jordie Poteet, most decidedly not thrillers, but I imagine those days are long gone now. Abbott will soon take his place with the likes of Lee Child and Michael Connelly.

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