The Day She Died by Catriona McPherson
Midnight Ink/Llewellyn Worldwide 2011
Jessie has a fear of feathers. A phobia, really, total full-on medical name for it and everything fear of feathers. That’s where it starts.
Oh, wait. No. The book starts with a woman locked in some sort of box or vault or something. Readers aren’t sure because the space is dark. And the narrative doesn’t return to the box or vault except for a very few times.
So, the book whiplashes between a heavy, terrorizing scene and one that’s smarmily funny. Watch out, because these same weaknesses will show up again. The lady in the box isn’t visited enough to justify having her be at the opening, yet if we didn’t know she was in there the narrative wouldn’t have nearly as much drive.
Or would it? The rest of the book, Jessie’s story and the narrative flow and the characters and how the characters develop, are all quite enjoyable. How did it turn out that the lady in the box had to show up? Was this a publisher pushing the author to do something that wasn’t in the original draft, and the author caved because a contract with changes to the novel is better than no contract? Or were these scenes part of the original concept but haven’t been handled well by the author?
Interesting things to think about if you like to think about those kinds of things. But don’t let that stop you from reading this book. It’s a better-than-average take on the somewhat funny, self-denigrating yet more than capable female protagonist who stumbles on a mystery that must be solved. In time for the lady in the box to live, preferably, but since readers don’t really need to know that to enjoy this story, we could just overlook that, yes?
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