Blame: Jeff Abbott
You wake up after four days and cannot recall whom you are why you are in the hospital. Your mother’s face is hovering over you but you have no idea why or who this person might be. Jane Norton feels isolated and alone even though there are people who want to support her and make sure she recovers. Told that she crashed her car on a deserted road supposedly trying to end your life and that of her friend David leaves the town that she lives in total shock and despair. Thinking at first it was an accident people rallied to her aid. But, a note that was found at the scene and supposedly in her handwriting ends what everyone thinks is any speculation as to the fact is was at attempted suicide. When the contents of the note is revealed is states: I wish we were dead together. But, did she write? Were the experts correct or was she set up by someone who wanted both Jane and David disposed of but why? Her memories gone except for the ones before she turned 14 leaving her with total memory loss about the present and the last three years before turning 17. Amnesia was it real or selective? Rather than looking more closely everyone turns against her and even her own mother appears to have serious doubts and she questions her movements, hides information that might enlighten her and we wonder if there is more that needs to be revealed about Laura Norton. Her husband killed in shooting accident leaving her devastated and Jane at a loss causing her behavior to change and her appearance to grow dark. Jane has many questions and wonders where the accident happened and why she was out with David and was it really an attempt to end her life? Jane at first seems to be relegated to her fate living in the dorm room of her friend Adam Kessler who has taken on the role of guardian and protector but is he really? This anonymous message she receives from someone calling herself Liv Danger sets her off on a mission to uncover this tormenter, find out what really happened and understand what this person means by ALL WILL PAY!
It all starts with the car crash in Austin Texas and it ends with the death of David Hall and 17-year-old Jane Norton losing her memory and supposedly killing her best friend’s boyfriend named David Hall. The scene appears to be one of an accident but the note that she supposedly wrote takes things and feelings on a different turn when she is no longer the innocent victim of an accident but the deliberate and calculating orchestrator of the murder of her friend. Jane is clueless and has no idea how this happened and why David, while she was driving, was killed. Did she go off the road? Did he attempt to stop her from doing something reckless and why was she there at all with him on this particular road? The messages received two years after the accident causes her to try and remember more about the night of the accident, while this person calling herself/himself/Liv Danger is sending messages stating he/she knows the truth of what happened and declaring revenge, vengeance and more making more than just Jane terrified. Someone knows the truth and everyone shuns Jane, wants her to be gone and as she tries to remember and hopefully learn who this Liv Danger is more things happen to other people what will link back to what happened three years ago and the night of the accident. Someone is hiding the truth and Jane has made it her mission to find out who and what she cannot remember.
David’s parents go to visit his gravestone and written all over the stone are the same words that Jane received in this cryptic message: ALL WILL PAY! Perri is mother gets overwrought and the father tries to calm her down but not until she gets the writing off of the stone will she even consider to go home. Getting divorced from him since the accident has changed her perspective and she thinks he has moved one you realize that she and Cal her husband might know more and are not letting on. Someone wants Jane to explore as she is taunted by more messages and find that there might be a connection to the loss of her father and what really caused his death. David’s mother sees Jane at the cemetery, attacks her and her rideshare driver videotapes it and calls the police who come the Jane’s rescue. Perri learns about Liv Danger and asks one of her co-workers to check who has hacked into her Faceplace page and the answer shakes her up even more when she learns that according to the information she got from her co-worker she is LIV DANGER which sets her off even more. There are more players involved and when Adam tries to comfort her and hopes that she will move ahead instead Jane remembers tidbit of information which leads her to the investigator on the case, several of her friends that she hopes will talk to her, her own mother, even Cal, David’s father and the paramedic who treated her at the accident. But, will they we forthcoming with information and help her?
Randy Franklin is the investigator that was hired to look into the case and when the Halls decided to drop the charges and go no further they accepted the money offered but Perri will do anything to blame Jane and Cal seems to realize that she has gone over the edge. The two paramedics were targeted as Brenda house and five others were burned down and Shiloh Rooke’s girlfriend received a video and other items making it seem he was doing more than cheating on her. Buying her an engagement ring she not only threw it in his face but everything else he brought that night. While Brenda wanted to help Jane to a point others did not as she and Cal interviewed her, Cal trying or pretending to understand that she is distraught and only wants her life back and shows remorse for thinking she killed David, others like Perri and Shiloh want more than revenge. Accusations fly all over and then Jane accesses information that could lead to the truth about the accident and her father’s death as Randy Franklin is threatened by an unknown assailant, forced to leave town, no one to know and then Perri is removed from her job because she is bringing bad press to the company she works for. Lies, deceptions, revenge, hate, accusations fly all around but Jane is determined to solve her own mystery. Learning more about Kevin who claims to want to help her and be her therapist for free, a chance encounter and glancing at a sign lets her know that he’s not who he claims to be and that someone sent him to try and pretend or really help her and that someone is close to her and wants her committed. Knowing that her own mother is against her and does not trust her judgment leads her to take action to stop her in her tracks. Who can she trust if her mother paid someone to draw up her commitment papers? Author Jeff Abbott has created a psychological thriller of the first magnitude as he delves into the mind of a 17-year-old girl who is confused, angry at times, tenacious and persistent in wanting to learn the dark and sinister truth about what really happened the night of her accident. Research into memory loss is extensive and the character of Jane Norton is realistic, believable as she is a teenager torn between what is reality and what is not.
When Perri busts her way into Jane’s house accusing her of losing her mind, hoping to get her to admit her mother is behind what happened to the houses that burned down, the paramedics and their troubles and that she should admit killing David, she explodes and goes over the top. When Kevin, her therapist admits he was hired by Lauren her mother, what she does is sheer brilliance when she threatens his job, his position, going to police and more hoping that he will admit duplicity but not before she creates a plan to trap her mother. Liv Danger is at the heart of this but just who is this person? Is it Perri, Cal, of maybe her friend Trevlin who with Adam both went to Happy Taco the night she and David were there before the accident? Adam looking for her and Trevor for David as she remembers getting a note in class handed to her from David stating that he needed her help because he was in deep trouble and it concerned her and running away to Canada. But why?
Jane realizes that someone is out to set her up and when she looks deeper into everything just where is Randy Franklin, what role does Adam play, why is Kamala with her mother and why did her parents accuse of her hitting their daughter? Who send the movie or video to Shiloh and who burned down five houses? All of these leads Jane to realize that there is much more to her father’s death and the fact that he was being investigated before he supposedly shot and killed himself. There are even more warnings from Liv Danger and the reporter doing freelance work terrorizes Perri, accuses her of all the bad events that happened while she denies it all and might lose her job in the interim. Jane Norton is smart, tenacious, brash and won’t stop until she learns the horrendous truth behind her father’s death, her mother’s, Kevin’s and Adam’s betrayals as her memory slowly comes back as she faces head on the person who was to BLAME! When the final shot is fired and the surprise twists and ending is revealed one parent who never will be the same. One young girl will decide how she will move on knowing the truth about David’s death comes to light when Jane recalls it all and the final twist you just won’t believe. Author Jeff Abbott orchestrated plot that will take you inside the minds of Jane, Cal, Perri, Laurel and supporting characters as if this is a dramatic and tragic play with an ending similar to Romeo and Juliet. David Hall suffered at the hand of a killer because he knew too much about something that he uncovered. Sharing it with Jane put her in the direct firing line and her amnesia was the catalyst for shunning her and making her think she was crazy. When the facts come out, the files read and the spreadsheets explained the truth behind the greed, power and use of money that was supposed to be for the good comes out someone will stand alone and that someone will have to own up for David’s death, the fires, the demise of Shiloh’s love life, the death of Brent Horton and take responsibility for his/her actions and say only I am the one to BLAME!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine