M. G. Gardiner was born in Oklahoma and raised in Santa Barbara, California. She graduated from Stanford University and Stanford Law School. She practiced law in Los Angeles and taught writing at the University of California Santa Barbara. She's a former collegiate cross-country runner and a three time Jeopardy! champion. She lives in Austin Texas and is the author of the Jo Beckett series and the Evan Delayne series. She has won many awards for her writing, including the 2009 Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original, the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award for Best Procedural Novel and the 2012 Audie Award for Thriller/Suspense audiobook of the year. Her latest novel is The Burning Mind (aka Phantom Instinct) is out today.
The Burning Mind is about perception. A catastrophic shootout leaves two damaged survivors who must work together to stop a killer. Hunting him down, and coming out alive, depends on accurate perception—by the survivors, the cops, and the people the killer has in his sights. Because almost nobody believes he exists.
And things may literally not be what they seem.
Perception involves a balance of vision, insight, memory, and judgment. And that balance can be skewed—by darkness, bias, lies, and bad neural wiring. In The Burning Mind, perception can’t be trusted. How do you tell truth from lies when you can’t believe what you see?
A shootout in a trendy L.A. club leaves bartender Harper Flynn’s boyfriend dead, Sheriff’s Deputy Aiden Garrison shattered, and two gunmen engulfed in flames. But if the case is closed, why is Harper still afraid?
Certain that a third gunman escaped and is targeting survivors, Harper pins her last hope on the only person willing to listen. But a traumatic brain injury has left Aiden with a rare and terrifying disorder: a delusion that random people are actually the same person in disguise.
Fregoli syndrome is a kind of face blindness—a glitch in perception—that can cause Aiden to think his worst enemy is coming at him, camouflaged as a friend, family, or stranger. So the authorities no longer believe anything he says. He himself hardly believes anything he says anymore. Because his own eyes deceive him.
As Harper and Aiden dig deeper into the case, Harper fears that the attack might have deliberately targeted her. And now her only ally is unstable, paranoid, and mistrustful because he sees the same enemy everywhere he looks.
Worse, Aiden starts to fear that Harper is an enemy too. She’s an ex-thief. The cops don’t care that she’s gone straight, or that she’s a Navy veteran with security clearance. They don’t trust her. When Aiden learns about her past, he doesn’t either.
The story is about trust, betrayal, and fatal secrets. Harper and Aiden are wounded warriors, broken and drawn to one another. But their wounds make them dangerous. They have to choose whether to risk trusting their hearts and their instincts. The killer is closing in. And he’ll turn every one of their faults against them, to put Harper, Aiden, and those they love in the line of fire.
You can find out more information about M.G Gardiner and her books on her website. You can also follow her on Twitter at @MegGardiner1 and find her on Facebook. You can also read her blog.
The Burning Mind by M G Gardiner is out now £6.99 (Penguin)