The Death of Us by Lori Rader-Day
10/3/23; 384 pages
The Death of Us by Lori Rader-Day is a very highly recommended suspense novel following a fifteen-year-old mystery.
Fifteen years ago, Ashley Hay handed over her baby son Callan to his stepmother, Liss Kehoe, and then disappeared. Since that day Liss has loved and cared for Callan, raising him as her own son. Then the shocking discovery of Ashley's car with a body inside in the quarry pond on Kehoe property opens up the question of Ashley's disappearance along with another cold case. In the small town they live in gossip flies and sentiments turn against Liss and her estranged husband, Link. Town Marshall Mercer Alarie, who has been romantically involved with Liss since Link moved out, now has to open up old cases and confront what Link's father, Key, who was the previous town Marshall, may have hidden.
The main characters are depicted as realistic, complex individuals
backstories and unique personalities. Liss is portrayed as a mother who
loves her son, even while she knows in the back of her mind that her
connection to him is fragile. Now, with the discovery of what is surely
Ashley's body, now she must help her son navigate those complicated
The small town, where
everyone knows everyone's business, or they have at least heard the
stories, is a perfect setting for this slow-burning mystery. The
setting influences the thoughts and actions of the characters. There are
several sub-plots that are as interesting as the main plot threads, and
also have the potential to change everything.
The narrative is told through the point-of-view of several characters, including Liss, Mercer, and Key. The Death of Us has a slow start as Radar-Day deftly establishes her characters, the setting, and the background information into place, so it takes some time before the investigation really begins to proceed. Once the investigation starts in earnest, the novel becomes increasingly compelling until it is an immersive mystery and readers will be invested in the outcome. My recommendation is to power through the slow start and get the action. 4.5 rounded up.