Fire Damage (A Jessie Flynn Investigation) - Kate Medina

What on the face of it looks like a standard crime novel, albeit set within the confines of the armed forces, proves to be much more a character driven study where all the main participants are in some way tainted by past events.

 

Psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn is trying to understand and break down the traumatic and delicate mind of 4 year old Sami. The child appears to be suffering a form of PTSD and Jessie becomes suspicious that perhaps his parents Scott (badly injured and disfigured during a tour of Afghanistan) and Nooria know more than they are prepared to divulge. At the same time Jessie's friend and former patient Captain Ben Callan is investigating the premature death of Sergeant Andy Jackson in the stifling desert heat of an Afghanistan autumn. Callan must also live each day with the consequences of war, he carries a bullet lodged in his brain too risky to surgically remove causing him to suffer frequent epileptic type fits. Meanwhile Inspector Bobby "Marilyn" Simmons (what a wonderful name to be associated with a rock legend!)  has encountered his own difficulties, a badly decomposed body on the shore killed by severe blunt trauma to the back of the head

 

Sound complicated? It's not....The story and momentum gather pace until in the last few chapters all is revealed. I read at blistering speed but found it difficult to keep abreast of events and I urged on Jessie Flynn in her quest to help restore a sad and damaged Sami. What makes this a great read is the depth to which the author shows the emotional fallout present in all. Flynn is haunted by an event in her childhood in which she blames herself and has never recovered. This manifests itself in recurrent OCD....."straightening the sleeves. Taking a step back she checked their alignment, straightened again, millimetre by millimetre, until they were exactly level...." Ben Callan has a bullet embedded in his brain and cannot be removed due to fear of death...."Frontal lobe seizure is the official diagnosis . He tapped the scar on his temple. Caused by the bullet that the army surgeons decided was too risky to remove." Major Nicholas Scott, Intelligence Corps, badly burnt in Afghanistan three months previously....."the left side of his face was so badly burnt that the skin had melted, slid away from the bones underneath, leaving threads of brown, tortured tissue. Batman's Joker dropped into a vat of acid..."

 

This is not a story that is inundated with army rank and slang but rather a crime thriller where the main participant happens to be an army psychologist. It is the first in the start of a new series featuring Jessie Flynn and I look forward to reading the second  when released later this year. Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for sending me a gratis copy of this superb story in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.