About the book: (from the publisher) Anna Winger can know people better than they know themselves with only a glance—at their handwriting. Hired out by companies wanting to land trustworthy employees and by the lovelorn hoping to find happiness, Anna likes to keep the real-life mess of other people at arm’s length and on paper. But when she is called to use her expertise on a note left behind at a murder scene in the small town she and her son have recently moved to, the crime gets under Anna’s skin and rips open her narrow life for all to see. To save her son—and herself—once and for all, Anna will face her every fear, her every mistake, and the past she thought she’d rewritten.
About the author: Lori Rader-Day, author of The Black Hour and Little Pretty Things, is the recipient of the Simon & Schuster Mary Higgins Clark Award and the Anthony Award for Best First Novel. Lori’s short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Time Out Chicago, and Good Housekeeping, among other publications. She lives in Chicago, where she teaches mystery writing at StoryStudio Chicago and serves as the president of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter.
Genre: Fiction/Mystery/Contemporary/Women’s FictionCompelling and addictive #mystery by @LoriRaderDay. Couldn't put it down! Click To Tweet
My take: Once I started reading this mystery/suspense, I didn’t want to stop. The Day I Died was for me a read-it-in-a-weekend book. Well-developed characters, complex relationships, steady pacing, and storytelling flair with just enough of a literary bent to be lovely without hijacking the story. Masterfully done.
Reading this book felt like watching a movie in which all of the actors play to their strengths, where no one is trying too hard. The director keeps every aspect carefully balanced, even understated. And in its understatement, the story is allowed to speak for itself.
The one thing I didn’t absolutely get was the assumption that handwriting analysis is something a little dodgy: hocus-pocus, or shady along the lines of mind-reading. The people Anna encounters seem to universally operate out of this assumption, from the sheriff to the townspeople, and this didn’t ring true for me. It seems, rather, that at least some would express curiosity rather than judgment. But this is a minor point and didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the story at all.
What I liked best was the thoughtful exploration of a single mother’s driving desire to protect her child, and the pleasure of a satisfying conclusion with justice served. The Day I Died stays on my keeper shelf, and I look forward to adding others by this gifted writer.
Just so you know: Some profanity and adult themes.
Thanks to William Morrow for providing me this book free of charge. All opinions are mine.
After words: Have you read any of Lori Rader-Day’s other mysteries?