In a previous incarnation (as Meg Gardiner), M.G. Gardiner was an author who had the absolute measure of the contemporary crime novel, in which plotting of tensile strength was matched to characterisation rich in nuance. The new moniker hardly signals a change, although the novels appear to be getting longer (this one weighs in at nearly 500 pages). But if anything is new, it is, surprisingly, an even more assured sense of authority (recognised in a jacket encomium by Stephen King, who compares Gardiner to Lee Child and Michael Connelly). Harper Flynn is left near to death when the club in LA she works at is the scene of an assault by raiders wearing masks. Struggling to come to terms with her life after the trauma of the incident, she is haunted by the thought that not only did one of the attackers escape, but the survivors of the brutal attack are now in the firing line of a ruthless killer or killers – and it is only a matter of time before her name comes up. She meets scepticism, but one man believes her: Sheriff Aiden Garrison. However, for reasons of his own, he is not the best possible ally she could have. As in the earlier The Shadow Tracer, there is a storytelling ethos at work here which fully justifies the oldest cliché in the reviewer’s lexicon: this one is unputdownable.

The Burning Mind by MG Gardiner is published by Penguin


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