The Girl From the Sea by Shalini Bolland: A Review

In her amnesiac thriller, Shalini Bolland introduces us to the confusion of a solitary woman washed up the shore. Percussive short sentences indicate the woman’s state of mind. The author segues into the sights, sounds, and smells of the hospital as our heroine is brought into the Emergency Department.

Reassured by Dr. Lazowski that her amnesia is temporary, our victim obsesses because she can’t even remember her name, much less how she came to be lying on the beach, water washing over her. Well-intentioned doctors, nurses and detectives press her for any memory that might surface. “Retrograde amnesia”. The use of the term strikes her panic button.

  • Where are you from?
  • Were you out running?
  • Do you have any identifying marks on your body?
  • Can you remember names of people you may know?

“I don’t know” is her resounding response. A look in the mirror confirms her fears. She has no idea who she is.

Someone has reported that “Mia James” is missing. Could that be her name? We immediately mistrust Mia’s boyfriend and family. Upon meeting her mother, she discovers that old photos of her are “in storage.” Piers, her boyfriend, whom she does not remember, fills her in on a huge inheritance she received from her father, and a real estate business that she and Piers own together. Mia meets all new information with mixed emotions. Who can she trust?

This contemporary mystery proceeds at a fast clip, fueling my inability to put the book down. The first person narrative is peppered with short paragraphs we assume to be memories, but even these are hazy. The emotional acceleration is propulsive until the middle of the book. Lies, blackmail, secrets, accusations, mistrust weave through The Girl from the Sea, but the book’s momentum slows to the point where the thrill of the thriller is stalled. A good read for those not needing consistently compelling reading.

I thank NetGalley and Adrenalin Books for supplying an ARC for my unbiased review.