Dundurn Press delivers S.M. Freedman’s thriller, The Day She Died, to my summer reading pile, and it is a gut punch of a book, exploring dark secrets, while exploring the concept of forgiveness of oneself. It’s a captivating read that pulls you in, and drags you along at full-throttle on a white knuckle ride that delivers you to an inescapable climax.
Having said that, I knew how the story of Eve Gold was going to end, especially after a couple of wonderfully planted seeds are noticed. It isn’t the destination though, but the narrative and the characters that are truly important in this story.
It’s Eve’s 27th birthday. Birthdays have become a bit of a slog for her, because of a number of horrific events that happened throughout her youth on or around her and her friend, Sara’s, birthday. But before she has a real chance to deal with the day, she’s caught up in a horrific accident, one that leaves her in the hospital, suffering not only from countless broken bones, but also broken memories, missing holes in her life, and a forgetfulness that causes her to lose time.
But as she recovers from the accident, her dreams of continuing her painting resurface, and proves to be very succesful, and the man she has always loved is back in her life.
None of it is perfect, none of it is a happily ever after fairy tale, and as the reader delves deeper, none of it feels right, and there are suggestions of something more going on, especially when long dark buried, and forgotten secrets begin to rear their heads, and make Eve confront her past, the horrors of her youth, and the number of suspicious deaths that seem to have occurred around her.
Freedman crafts an unnerving tale, that shows Eve’s present slipping away from her, as she gets caught up in the past, and all of it has an air of menace and foreboding, leaving the reader wondering where the story is headed (even if you know the final destination).
The last few chapters, especially, deliver gut-punch after gut-punch, leaving the reader reeling wondering what story of Eve’s is true, what her memories are hiding, and what those secrets mean to her, her mother, Donna, her Grandmother, Button, and the man she chose to love, Leigh.
It took me about fifty pages to get into the story, as it moved back and forth through Eve’s past and present, connecting tissues of her memory, while hinting at something lurking deeper, but once I was in the story, I was in, and devoured the tale avidly and voraciously.
I don’t want to give away too much about what secrets are unearthed and how the story plays out, but if you like your thillers, and an author who can put you in the shoes of the character, then do yourself a favour and dig into The Day She Died by S.M. Freedman, now available from Dundurn Press.