The cover is what first attracted me to this novel. This time ‘choosing by dust jacket’ paid off in spades.
A remote, dark, and ominous Scottish locale, an emotionally damaged protagonist, a psychopath, two sweet little children….what more could you want in a thriller?
Our protagonist, Jessie is a needy single woman in her thirties who carries a lot of emotional baggage from her childhood thanks to her delusional (and borderline evil) mother. Jessie longs for what other folk take for granted. A home of her own, a man of her own and maybe children.
One day as she is shopping for her supper in Marks & Spencer she encounters Gus, a good looking man with a wee girl in tow. She has seen him around before and found him both intriguing and attractive. He is pleading with someone (his wife) on the phone. At the end of the conversation he smashes his phone and is completely distraught. So distraught that Jessie feels she has no choice but to step in and help. He tells her that his wife has left him…. and asks her if she will drive him and the little girl home. Jessie agrees and finds that he lives over an hour from town in a cottage by the sea. When they get there – Jessie finds that there is a baby wailing from his crib. He has been left completely alone for hours!
Faced with this dire predicament, Gus pleads with Jessie to stay and help him with the children. She does…. But of course nothing is as it seems. The wife who left him has had a car accident and her body has been found over a cliff. Gus identifies her body and asks if Jessie will stay just a bit longer until the funeral is over…. What follows is a life-altering experience for her as she comes to love both Gus and the children.
The cottage is near a holiday caravan park where mysterious goings on seem to be taking place. There is a Polish man who tries to approach Jessie on several occasions. He seems to have only one change of clothes and is homeless. However he does have a bag full of thousands of pounds in cash… He and other secondary characters add depth and intrigue to the plot and eventually tie-in with the story of Gus’s family.
On the home front there seem to be inconsistencies in what Gus says about his wife. It transpires that the marriage was not a happy one. Gus is a sculptor who works from a shed at the end of the garden. He doesn’t allow people to enter the shed… Doubts begin to niggle Jessie and she starts to question what really happened ‘the day she died‘… Nothing is as it seems – and the reader will frantically turn the pages to discover just what truths the ending will reveal.
“The day she died” was the first novel I have read by Catriona McPherson. It is a creepily foreboding psychological thriller that had me spellbound! I can honestly say I enjoyed it as much as some early Ruth Rendell novels. High praise from me – as Ruth Rendell is one of my favorite novelists. The title chosen was perfect for the novel and actually had double relevance as readers will discover.
I received my early copy from Midnight Ink via NetGalley in return for an honest review. I am only too pleased to say that I absolutely loved the book and look forward to more by this author.
Catriona McPherson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and is the author of the Dandy Gilver historical mystery series, which was nominated for a Macavity Award in 2012. She moved to California in 2010 but she returns to Scotland every year for a wee visit to quell her homesickness.
She is now a full time writer. When not writing, she is reading, gardening, cooking, baking, cycling , and running.
Follow Catriona McPherson on Twitter @CatrionaMcP