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Phantom Instinct    by Meg Gardiner order for
Phantom Instinct
by Meg Gardiner
Order:  USA  Can
Dutton, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Phantom Instinct opens on a scene of extreme violence in Los Angeles. Gunmen storm a nightclub and barista Harper Flynn (also a student at UCLA) watches in horror as her boyfriend Drew dies in front of her. Two police officers on the scene are injured. The police believe that there were only two shooters (local lowlifes who died in the incident), but Harper is certain there was a third.

She's not the only one. LAPD detective Aiden Garrison also believes there was a third killer but his version of events is discounted as the attack left him with a rare disorder, Fregoli syndrome. It leads his brain to misfire occasionally and convince him that the person he's looking at is someone else - he lost serious credibility with fellow officers after he attacked one, certain of his misidentification.

When Harper sees the third gunman at Drew's memorial service a year after the tragedy, she contacts Aiden. Despite reservations on both sides, they start to work together. Aiden occasionally calls on his ex-partner Erika Sorenstam for help. She has much stronger reservations and distrusts Harper, but has strong feelings for Aiden. Slowly, readers are given glimpses of Harper's very rough childhood and the vendetta that still follows her.

Unfortunately, Harper's nemesis has extensive resources to draw upon, and uses them all. But she has helpers too, not only Aiden, but also an old friend from her past. Oscar was used by the villains before fleeing from them. And Harper is more concerned for the people she cares for than for herself, especially for Drew's teen sister Piper, to whom she's remained close since the tragedy.

Phantom Instinct has nonstop, explosive action, an intriguing liability for the good guys in Aiden's condition, suprises and betrayals, a denouement to die for, and two leads readers will really care about. Don't miss this one.

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