As the sole survivor of a Taliban POW camp, Steve Petersen is damaged goods. He is convinced he left his sanity within the horror-filled walls that held him captive for the better part of a year. His mind is trapped in moments of graphic, soul-crushing flashbacks, and his only solace is the momentary reprieve he gains from alcohol and drugs.
When he wakes in a bright and cheery bedroom that belongs to a woman he barely remembers meeting, he knows he should leave and save the widow Anna from his own special brand of crazy. Leaving is not as easy as one would think, and he finds himself drawn into a world of real life problems such as folding laundry and what to make for dinner.
This new way of life eases his need for drowning his pain in substances, and offers moments of quiet healing – until Anna disappears. To save her, Steve must face the demons that have tortured him for so long and return to the place where it all began. Afghanistan.
When they came home, Steve sank down in the sofa without even taking off his jacket. Life outside could sure be exhausting. Anna went into the kitchen, and he rested his head back and closed his eyes. Listening to her hum a song, just a little out of tune as she loaded the coffee maker soothed his nerves.
A hard rattling sound made him open his eyes again. Gunshots, and they were close. Anna still sang, and she would be an easy target.
He ran through the apartment, making sure to stay away from the windows. Peeking around the corner, his beautiful fiancée was oblivious to the danger.
How did they survive?
He sprung out from his hiding place behind the wall, shoved her down on the floor, and threw himself over her. After all she did for him, protecting her with his own body was the least he could do.
Anna wheezed, clearly trying to draw a breath.
"Sssh, they're coming."
She lay on her back, and the question in her eyes was clear. Have you lost your mind? Of course he had, a long time ago. She should know. When she opened her mouth, he covered it with his hand so she couldn't draw attention to them.
"Don't you hear them? The shots?"
She shook her head and closed her fingers around his wrist, attempting to pull his hand away.
"I think we're safe, but be very quiet."
Anna nodded, and as soon as he removed the hand, she whispered, "Please get off me. I can't breathe."
He obeyed, she endeavored to sit up, and he pulled her back down.
"Don't make yourself a target."
Why did she look so exhausted?
"Sweetheart, there's nothing there."
"But..." He had heard them.
"That noise? Remember the crazy people upstairs? I don't know what they're doing, but it's definitely them."
Posted by Paula L. McElwee on 20th Jun 2013
I just finished Flashback and stayed up way too late and even skipped some of the things I should have done because I couldn't put it down. Maria Hammarblad has written another great story full of wonderful characters, dramatic plot twists, moments of true terror, and a love that grows and fills the story and makes getting through the scary times possible. Great book!
Posted by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite on 27th May 2013
"Flashback" is an insight into the life of a soldier. Steve was a soldier who came "home" after being gruesomely tortured at the hand of the enemy. His past continued to haunt him all the time. He tried to escape the memories by drowning himself in alcohol and drugs but they seemed to be making it more difficult ... then Anna came. Suddenly, his life was better. He had the urge to do things for her, to make her happy. She made him feel human again and he was ready to change everything for her. Then calamity struck; Anna was kidnapped right after they got married and were living in their dream house. Steve would have to go back to live his nightmare if he wanted his wife back. Would he be able to go back to the place that ruined his life? Would he be able to overcome his demons and fight for his love?
"Flashback" starts with a very powerful beginning that hooks the attention of the reader. Once you start you cannot stop until you have read the last page. And once you are done with that, you will want to read it all over again. A delightful reading for those people who are mature readers and who do not shy away from mild violence and expressive language. If you are one of them then this book will be a definite keeper for you.