Published by Thomas & Mercer on July 1, 2022
Genres: Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Women Sleuths, Fiction / Thrillers / Psychological, Fiction / Thrillers / Suspense
In this unforgettable psychological thriller, the dark is a terrifying mystery for a woman on the edge.
Seven hard-won months into her sobriety, sociology professor Maris Heilman has her first blackout. She chalks it up to exhaustion, though she fears that her husband and daughter will suspect she's drinking again. Whatever their cause, the glitches start becoming more frequent. Sometimes minutes, sometimes longer, but always leaving Maris with the same disorienting question: Where have I been?
Then another blackout lands Maris in the ER, where she makes an alarming discovery. A network of women is battling the same inexplicable malady. Is it a bizarre coincidence or something more sinister? What do all the women have in common besides missing time? Or is it who they have in common?
In a desperate search for answers, Maris has no idea what's coming next--just the escalating paranoia that her memories may be beyond her control, and that everything she knows could disappear in the blink of an eye.
Getting back to suspense, thrillers, and mysteries, I read Erin Flanagan’s domestic/psychological suspense, BLACKOUT. Maris is an associate sociology professor at an Ohio college, and she’s also an advocate for women–especially women that have been the victim’s of crimes dealt by men. And she just so happens to be a struggling alcoholic, going on 8 horrible months of sobriety after an incident with her teenaged daughter forced her to clean up her act. But she’s now experiencing troubling blackouts where she has zero memory of what she’s been doing for several minutes, and she’s worried that her brain has been damaged by her alcoholism.
After wrecking her car during one of her blackouts, Maris finds out at her husband’s hospital that they’ve had other patients in the ER with similar complaints and vital signs. This leads Maris to band together with others to get to the bottom of everything–and it turns out to be more danger than she’s ever experienced in her life.
Maris was a likeable character, and the addition of her husband Noel and her daughter Cody made her much more relatable and realistic. I really enjoyed her elderly neighbor, whose husband passed away several months before, and who also performed some ground breaking research in the field of bioengineering before taking a back seat to her husband’s research. The psychological and neuroscience that shows up in this novel is cutting edge and very scary if it’s in the real world right now.
I give Blackout a four out of five. This book tackles all kinds of problems that women face today – domestic violence, rape, gas lighting, the hard climb towards the upper echelon of their male-dominated careers. The first sections of the book were very much a domestic drama featuring Maris’s family, personal, and professional problems. But the story slowly builds steam until it comes to an explosive finale, and I really enjoyed this last suspenseful portion the most. The writing was emotional and believable as Maris deals with these blackouts and ultimately finds out what they are caused by. I enjoyed the banding together of victims to take control of the situation, ultimately putting a stop to the manipulations. Trigger warning: There is a lot of talk of rape culture and assaults, along with a fair amount of distrust towards white males. Overall, this was an enjoyable suspense that was a fast read.
About Erin Flanagan
Erin Flanagan is the Edgar Award–nominated author of Deer Season and two short story collections, The Usual Mistakes and It’s Not Going to Kill You and Other Stories. She’s held fellowships to Yaddo, MacDowell, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Ucross, and the Vermont Studio Center. An English professor at Wright State University, Erin lives in Dayton, Ohio, with her husband, daughter, two cats, two dogs, and her friendly, caustic thoughts. For more information, visit www.erinflanagan.net.
Find Erin Flanagan
Erin Flanagan’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for BLACKOUT:
Monday, June 20th: Helen’s Book Blog
Monday, June 20th: @getlostinabookwithme
Tuesday, June 21st: @books.cats.travel.food
Tuesday, June 21st: @the_boozy_baking_bibliophile
Wednesday, June 22nd: @bibliovino
Wednesday, June 22nd: @nissa_the.bookworm
Thursday, June 23rd: @libraryofbookish
Friday, June 24th: @tammyreads62
Monday, June 27th: @abookwormwithwine
Tuesday, June 28th: Bewitched Bookworms
Wednesday, June 29th: @jess_reads_books
Thursday, June 30th: @patchespapercut on TikTok
Thursday, June 30th: @thebookishalix
Friday, July 1st: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, July 1st: @anabrendareads on TikTok
Tuesday, July 5th: @shook_sbooks
Tuesday, July 5th: Books & Bindings
Thursday, July 7th: @andrea.c.lowry.reads
Friday, July 8th: @suethebookie
Monday, July 11th: @nurse_bookie
Tuesday, July 12th: @brianas_best_reads
Wednesday, July 13th: @jennthemoodyreader on TikTok