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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Deceptively fascinating thriller!

The Day She Died: A Novel by Catriona McPherson    

The storyline in 'The Day She Died' was completely unexpected in its unfolding. A pyscho thriller with more than its share of laudable twists and turns. There are scores of little touches that resonate as a new vista into what's happening is opened up, recalling hints from a seemingly innocent observation mentioned previously. Jessie Constable is a worker in a church thrift store. She meets Gus King and his daughter in Marks and Spencer just as he is given the news that his wife Becky had left him. Sympathetic to his distress, with his inability to function, she agrees to drive him and young Ruby home. En route they pass police divers in action. For some reason this scene stays with Jessie. At Gus's home Jessie finds a note that indicates Becky may have been intent on suicide, although it is strange that she has left their young son Dillon alone. Gus is however adamant that Becky and suicide can't be so. The police and Gus request Jessie to stay and give assistance with the children. She soon finds herself completely embroiled in the tragedies of Gus's life.  
Jessie suffers from a rare phobia, Pteronophobia, a fear of feathers. This too plays into the story. Jessie is a strong despite or because of her rare phobia. As she reveals more and more of her fear we are able to more fully empathize with the full horror of her condition and it's source. It's only in the closing scenes that she and we come to realize how her imperfections have been teased out and fully utilized by a master manipulator.
A rare and appealing cast of characters and sub plots fill out the rest of the novel. We are given little clues, little pearls to soak up as the events unfold. Even the beginning had me puzzled and confused. Later I had to reread it. Seemingly an innocent story of help given in extreme moments, it's only as we read on that we become as puzzled as Jessie. Engaging and visually compelling prose ensure that this is a complex and satisfying read.
Top marks for a gritty exciting story that sucked me in and kept me reading beyond when I should have.

A NetGalley ARC

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