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Out of Mind    by Catherine Sampson order for
Out of Mind
by Catherine Sampson
Order:  USA  Can
Mysterious Press, 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Catherine Sampson introduced Brit TV producer Robin Ballantyne in Falling Off Air. Robin is an unusual protagonist, not just for her profession, but as the struggling, single mother of twins. In fact, she has just come back to work after a long maternity leave - during which, she came under suspicion of murder in the previous episode. The only good thing that came out of it is her relationship with DCI Tom Finney, the policeman who headed the investigation.

The Corporation's lack of support during her own crisis drives Robin to investigate the disappearance of tough camerawoman Melanie Jacobs, whom she has included in a new documentary series on people who have gone missing. Melanie had a reputation for bravery, if not recklessness, in war zones - she risked her life 'day after day to record human atrocity.' She disappeared while on a course at the HazPrep War School. Robin's digging takes her first to HazPrep, then to Cambodia where a landmine explodes too close for comfort. There are links to covert action in Afghanistan and the death of a soldier there.

Why does a Corporation executive order Robin to drop Melanie from the series and what is he hiding? What makes ex-special forces soldier Mike Darling (the last person known to have seen Melanie) so hostile to her investigation? Why does someone kidnap his infant son? Robin obstinately follows the threads of her investigation, despite resistance from family, friends, and her employer. Complicating her life is her confusion about how she wants her relationship with Finney to develop, worry over her sister's attraction to a Catholic priest, her mother's departure to 'find herself' in California, and her conman father's entry into her life again.

Though the mystery itself is well developed and the protagonist engaging, what makes this series stand out from the average is its commentary on the media, and how information is obtained and presented to the public. I enjoyed Out of Mind and look forward to more of Robin Ballantyne and her 'barking mad' family.

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