eBook, 336 pages
That was the day I met Gus, the day I grew a family as if from magic beans, the day she died. That’s the point, see? It was the very same day…Jessie Constable has learned the hard way to always keep herself safe. But meeting Gus King changes everything. Before she knows it, Jessie is sleeping at Gus’s house, babysitting his kids, becoming a part of his family. And yet, she can’t ignore the unsettling questions. Who does she keep seeing from the corner of her eye? Why are strange men threatening her? Most importantly, what really happened to Gus’s wife?
The Day She Died by Catriona McPherson is a recommended creepy story of psychological terror.
In The Day She Died Jessie Constable is a loner who suffers from pteronophobia, the fear of feathers, and works at a charity shop in Dumfries, Scotland. She has been watching a customer, Gus King, and ends up giving him a ride home when he is distraught and seemingly unable to function. Once at his home with his two kids she learns that his wife, Becky, left him, but soon after that it is discovered that Becky has died in a car crash. Jessie finds herself unable to say no to Gus and spends the night caring for his kids and listening to him. Jessie soon finds herself spending all her free time with Gus, but questions are beginning to emerge and make her wonder what is really going on, especially when she meets her Polish immigrant neighbors who are terrified and looking for Becky's best friend who has also gone missing.
Opening with a woman entombed somewhere, this novel does a good job building suspense and allowing the terror and questions to slowly start to accumulate. I totally accepted the pteronophobia and the problems that it could create for anyone suffering from it, but I just couldn't shake the feeling that Jessie should have been smarter. I simply couldn't accept her being sucked into Gus' world so easily.
I found myself repeatedly asking "Why on earth are you hanging around this weird man, Jessie, and allowing him to take advantage of you?" And thinking, "Boundaries, honey. Your years of therapy should have taught you that you need to set them." I'd like to think that most women are smarter than that and wouldn't just take off with a stranger, agree to care for his children, and accepting her insertion into his life as if it is a given. That alone would give most people pause.
In some ways the climax makes up for some of my questioning, but not all of it since I figured it out early in the novel.
Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this book for my Kindle from the publisher.