The Gauguin Connection by Estelle Ryan
Genevieve Lenard has a doctorate in psychology with a specialty in body language. She is considered to be one of the three top facial expression readers in the world. The autistic, antisocial genius spends most of her days in the private viewing room at Rousseau & Rousseau, an insurer of art treasures; a room tailored specifically to her needs and abilities by Phillip Rousseau. From here, on her 10 monitors, she studies the minute facial expressions and body language of clients and dealers. The world of fine art is fraught with fraud, and Phillip estimates that her uncanny powers of observation and analytical abilities have already saved his firm over six million Euros.
Colonel Millard is prepared to tolerate almost anything if she can help solve his problem. Thousands of EDA weapons have apparently gone missing and inventory reports been falsified over a number of years. The systematic thefts were only discovered when a young girl was murdered in Paris with one of the missing weapons. Viewing the crime scene photos drove Genevieve back into her mind, where she rewrites Mozart's music when overwhelmed and unable to cope with external events. Nonetheless, Phillip promises their help to Millard. When Genevieve's flat is later broken into by an international art thief determined to help find the killer of a young friend also shot by one of the missing weapons, her carefully structured life swings wildly out of control.
This is a curious and complex story, told in the first person by a brilliant woman with autism. I got tired of some of Genevieve's behaviors, and some of her responses didn't quite ring true, but the characters were interesting and kept me reading, even if some were a bit (OK, a lot) over the top. The European agencies, with their overlapping relationships and spheres of authority, confused me somewhat, but understanding them wasn't critical to following the story. This was the author's debut novel, and I will read further in the series to get some of the back stories of the motley crew of gifted misfits that Genevieve manages to collect around her.
The Blood Whisperer by Zoe Sharp
From the author of the popular Charlie Fox series comes this stand-alone thriller. Kelly Jacks is a disgraced crime scene investigator. Six years ago, she woke up in a strange bed with a dead man beside her. She had no memory of the man or of how she got there, and she certainly didn't remember stabbing him to death! She served two years for involuntary manslaughter, and was, of course, fired from the police department, where she had been so competent that coworkers called her "the blood whisperer." She still can't remember that horrible night.
So there you have it: two women with very unusual skills, exercised with unexpected and very dangerous results. I'm wondering now what undiscovered and untapped ability to wish for, and what the consequences of using it might be.
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