By Emily Koch
Published by Harvill Secker (11 January 2018)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher.
HOW DO YOU SOLVE YOUR OWN MURDER?
Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen.
But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger.
As he goes over a series of clues from his past, Alex must use his remaining senses to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him, and try to protect those he loves, before they decide to let him go.
If I Die Before I Wake had an intriguing premise, with an unlikely narrator, so I was curious to read it. And it certainly didn't let me down.
After a tragic climbing incident, Alex is in a coma, believed to be brain dead but suffering from locked-in syndrome. He can feel and hear his family and friends around him, as well as hospital staff, but can't communicate with them. Thinking about past events (as he can't do much else), he becomes convinced that someone deliberately tried to kill him, and that it wasn't an accident at all. Since he's not expected to wake from his coma, that person has probably succeeded. But how do you solve your own murder if you can't see, speak or move?
If I Die Before I Wake is an easy-to-read psychological thriller, narrated in a natural chatty voice. It's clearly been well researched, and seems realistic and believable. You're right inside Alex's head, which creates a sensory experience as his touch and hearing are heightened, with great descriptions of what he can feel and hear.
As Alex's memories return, this helps him put together the clues of the past to discover there's a killer on the loose. You can sense his frustration and also his sadness that he can't warn his family and friends. There's a sense of urgency too as the killer could try again.
This is an original haunting debut, with some great writing, and plenty of shocks in store. A compelling heart-breaking story that will linger long after the final page.