Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Selective Memory by Jennifer L. Jordan
Publisher: Spinsters Ink
In Selective Memory, another offering in the Kristin Ashe Mystery series, Kristin is hired to find a missing person by the person who is missing. Alexandra Madigen was involved in a serious car accident and suffered brain trauma, including a prolonged coma. Her memory is coming back in disjointed flashes and she needs help in putting them back together properly. Alexandra wants to know who she was before the accident because she doesn't trust what she's being told by the people around her. The reason she doesn't trust them is that she remembers more than she is telling Kristin and she wants to see whose version will be confirmed.
Kristin uncovers details she's not sure she should share with a woman who is so seriously ill, including a twenty year obsession with another woman, so she finds herself caught in an ethical bind as to what to do. Meanwhile, Kristin's associate, the irrepressible Fran Green, has decided they should expand their business by going into "decoy" work. They can be hired by people's spouses or partners to "tempt" them as a test of their fidelity. Kristin isn't comfortable with this at all, especially when she learns that she is going to be the first "decoy" for a lesbian couple. This presents her with an ethical dilemma of an entirely different sort. Both of these cases will have Kristin wondering at times if she needs to rethink her choice of profession.
Once again Jennifer Jordan delivers an alternative mystery. The puzzle here is not to solve a crime but to understand relationships. The central story is the relationships that revolve around Alexandra Madigen, which at first appear to be rather cold, even unpleasant, except for the incongruous obsession with the other woman. When that takes an unexpected twist near the end of the novel, the reader is forced to go back and reevaluate everything.
The decoy business calls up the question of what happens in a relationship when one partner doesn’t trust another one and things have broken down so far that, instead of talking about the problem, you hire someone to deliberately tempt the person to cheat. What if the partner really hadn't cheated before, but does now because the bait was put out there? Then who is the real guilty party?
Finally, there is the evolving relationship between Kristin and Fran. Those who have read the earlier books in the series know that Fran Green started out almost as a comic relief in the stories. While she can still be funny, in this book she begins her own public access television show, and a more puzzling side is also beginning to emerge in the character. At times Fran appears to be the voice telling Kristin to take a risk, move further out to the edge, then she's telling her not to go somewhere. It's as if Fran is playing both roles of angel and devil sitting on Kristin's shoulders. The reader might wonder how much of this tug of war the friendship can endure.
Selective Memory is an easy read that will also cause you to think.