Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Day I Died

The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day
HarperCollins: 4/11/17
trade Paperback: 432 pages
ISBN-13: 9780062560292

The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day is a very highly recommended compelling mystery/novel psychological suspense. I found it compulsively readable and unputdownable.

Anna Winger is a handwriting analyst who sometimes works with the FBI and law enforcement as well as for private citizens. Anna can look at original samples of handwriting and deduce more about a person than they may want to reveal. She has also been constantly on the move for the last thirteen years in an attempt to hide from her former violent, abusive boyfriend. This time she and Joshua, her thirteen-year-old son, have ended up in a small town in Parks, Indiana. She avoids friendships and any ties with the community she's living in so she can pack up Josh and leave the moment something seems threatening. 

Then her FBI contact refers her to Parks Sheriff Russ Keller to assist in the investigation and search for a missing toddler by looking at some written material left behind. The sheriff is reluctant to trust her analysis and she is reluctant to get involved in this small town case. Anna agrees to help, but it places her in close contact with the community and the ghosts of her past. The mother of the toddler is also missing and it seems like the father might be abusive, all of which strikes too close to home for Anna. Did the mother of the boy stage their disappearance to escape abuse?

To complicate matters even more, Josh is starting to rebel, by talking back, hiding his activities, and acting out. Is it because he is a teen or is his behavior linked to the friends he has made in Parks? When Josh disappears too, Anna must disclose parts of her personal life to try and find her son. Her biggest fear is that he went to look for a man he never met, his father, and Anna will have to return to her hometown to find him and confront her past.

Although Anna is very guarded with details into her past, we slowly learn more about her as we also learn more about the case the sheriff is trying to solve - and as she tries to find her son. While the buildup is slow to start, the narrative picked up the pace rather dramatically and then took off at a gallop. Anna is a great character, fully developed and interesting. She has amazing powers of observation and notices many small clues and details along the way.

The writing is excellent and kept my attention throughout, especially as it opens with the titular "On the day I died..." The unraveling of the clues in the intricate cases are interlaced with the slow reveal of Anna's past and what she has been running from for all these years. It all makes for a masterful novel of mystery and suspense along with a powerful statement about abuse.
There is a twist that, upon reflection, seems too convenient, but I overlooked it as the action was pretty intense at that point.  Once you get through the slow-ish set up, the action and information increase exponentially to the satisfying conclusion.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from HarperCollins



Audra said...

Ooooh, sounds good but I'm not sure I can do a thriller about missing kids -- hits me in the gut these days!

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

"compulsively readable and unputdownable" is high praise indeed!

Thanks for being a part of the tour.