Cold, cold heart by Tami Hoag

cover image

Orion Books, 2015. ISBN 9781409151951 (Age: secondary to adult) Highly recommended, Post Traumatic Shock Disorder, Brain injury, Crime. When Dana Nolan returns to the small rural town where she was brought up, she becomes embroiled in the increased media attention of the disappearance of her best friend at school, Casey Grant. Dana was a media presenter before being kidnapped and raped by a serial killer, and now all she wants to do is recover from this ordeal as best she can. But her physical injuries include brain damage and she must learn to think, speak and act without fumbling. Her journey to this end makes fascinating reading as she relearns to say words that are common, to put her thoughts in some order, and survive the attentions of well meaning relatives and friends. She is made of stern stuff, after all she escaped her would be killer where many did not. But back home, the media scrutiny of her friend's unproven death begins to involve her and she uses her investigative skills to begin researching what happened that day. She pieces together media reports, asks questions, talks to police who did the original investigations, eventually meeting up with a young man form her class at school, John Williams, a boy from a different social group, but one who dated Casey and was strongly implicated in her disappearance. He too has a brain injury, acquired when serving in Afghanistan, and now lives at home, despite the animosity between him and his father. The contrast between the two protagonists is rivetting as both are bound in some way by Casey's presumed death, as well as the effects of their not dissimilar brain injuries. The story is tightly plotted as the many characters add further layers of involvement and understanding, and when truths begin to emerge, truths that have been hidden all these years, only then can the events of that night be truly understood. I enjoyed this book particularly because of the presentation on post traumatic shock syndrome and the effect of brain injuries with the two major characters. Fran Knight