Written by David Terruso — Lina Colella has a gift. A gift that is both wonderful and terrible at the same time. By touching objects associated with murder victims, she can sense things about their deaths that are hidden from police experts. One day, she takes a telephone call from her sister Elise, who is bitter and angry that a series of calls have, apparently, been ignored. These were not just any old calls. Bill, Elise’s husband has been murdered.
Bill is the latest victim of a serial killer stalking Philadelphia. The murders are always committed at the same time of the month, and the victims are despatched the same way – a shotgun fired at point blank range into their backs.
Horrified at the turn of events, Lina takes the next train to the City of Brotherly (if not sisterly) Love. In the taxi heading to her sister’s house, Lina has a terrifying vision. It is that her young nephew, Nicky, has wandered into the derelict building where his father was shot, and is in mortal danger. Lina diverts the taxi to the death house, and is relieved to find her nephew dazed, but otherwise safe. Just as she reaches him, there is a loud crack, and Lina knows no more. She wakes up in hospital 48 hours later and learns that part of the building collapsed, cracking her a fearful blow on the head, but leaving Nicky unscathed. Lina slowly recovers her senses – but not entirely. She is mortified to find that the part of the brain enabling her hands to interpret the shape and size of objects has been irreparably damaged along with her psychic gift.
Lina’s fame has preceded her, and before long she is in the office of the Philadelphia cops tasked with bringing the shotgun killer to justice. She is not yet ready to come to terms with the fact that her unique gift has disappeared. She puts on a very convincing display for the leading investigator who is desperate to solve the case, and is prepared to grasp at any straw.
Reluctantly, Lina faces reality, but realises that she is smart enough to bring her normal insight into play. She assembles a list of suspects. Is her childhood sweetheart John – now a philandering 30-something with a pregnant wife – all he seems to be? Is the local parish priest, Father Brennan, hiding something? And what about the stepfather of the youngest victim? Is he a bland manager of a catalogue store by day, but a twisted killer by night? Lina’s questions are eventually answered, but in a way that leavers her with a huge personal dilemma.
Lina is a wonderfully written character. She is sassy and sexy. She is as tough as teak, yet vulnerable. Terruso slowly peels away the protective layers around her personal history to reveal that vulnerability, but eventually she emerges from the chaos relatively unscathed. There is a cracking twist in the plot, and although I had spotted a fairly big reveal early in the story, the eventual denouement is as credible as it is tricksy. The only downside is that there’s little attempt to explain the motivation for the murders, or, indeed, the peculiar timings. We are locked into the fact that Lina has to solve the case before the fateful last Friday of the month arrives, thus giving the book a race-against-time tension, but, unless I missed something, we never learn the significance of the date.
David Terruso is, amongst other things, a stand up comedian, and here is his two-minute take on this thoroughly enjoyable book – Lost Touch Trailer.
Full Fathom Five Digital
CFL Rating: 4 Stars