Our Book of the Month for November is A Gift For Dying by M J Arlidge. What would you do if you could tell when someone would die just by looking into their eyes?
A Gift For Dying – the blurb
Nothing surprises Adam Brandt anymore. As a forensic psychologist, he’s seen and heard everything.
That is, until he meets Kassie.
Because she claims to have a terrible gift – with one look into your eyes, she can see when and how you will die.
Adam doesn’t believe her, obviously.
But then a serial killer starts wreaking havoc across the city, and only Kassie seems to know where he’ll strike next.
Against all his intuition, Adam starts to believe her.
He just doesn’t realise how dangerous this trust might be . . .
A Gift For Dying – our review
This review is written with the expectation you have read A Gift For Dying. If that’s not you yet, bookmark the page and come back.
Having recently read Eeny Meeny by M J Arlidge I was excited at the prospect of reading A Gift For Dying, a new standalone featuring psychologist Adam Brandt and troubled teen Kassie. Eeny Meeny aside, the book had peaked my interest when I heard Arlidge talk about it at Newcastle Noir earlier this year. Was Adam really going to kill Kassie? If yes how on earth did Arlidge connect the dots to make it work?
Can we predict the future?
I thought Arlidge skirted the line between Kassie’s belief – that she can see into the future, and Adam’s belief – that such a thing is not scientifically possible, perfectly. You were allowed to ponder the possiblity – what if our future was already written? But it wasn’t forced onto the reader at any point.
The plot was cleverly constructed as it drew Kassie (and Adam) into its tangled web. I really enjoyed how it unfolded. Like with Eeny Meeny, Arlidge didn’t hold back when it came to the killings – it was quite graphic at times. Yet this didn’t bother me and it was in context. I didn’t really get Miller’s evidence plant but it did make a good red herring.
Grace or Grey?
Once again Arlidge avoided detective cliches, Gabrielle Grey was a happily married woman with two sons who seemed to be just fine. There were similarities Helen Grace, the protagonist in Arlidge’s previous novels, as both featured strong women in the police force however A Gift For Dying was set in America and Grey was really the sideline to Adam and Kassie. This was definitely a different book and not just a regurgitation.
What would you do to get revenge?
At first I found Faith, Adam’s wife, too sickly sweet. She was too content, too happily in love. You got the sense early on that something was going to happen to her to compensate for all the sweetness. This really was the only giveaway as to why Adam would end up wanting to kill Kassie.
It was awful to read about Faith’s loss which I thought Arlidge handled with sensitivity. I was however totally blindsided by her suicide. Whilst this did provide the ‘reason’ why Adam wanted to extract revenge. I thought it to be a weakness in an otherwise excellent plot. I’m not sure how else it could have been written to enable the dots to connect though, and I did like the way it turned out in the final scenes.
A Gift For Dying is a strong, deftly plotted book, every bit as good as Eeny Meeny. For me Arlidge once again sets the bar in crime writing for 2019. If you’re in to your crime, read it!
Book of the Month
If you would like to get involved with our book of the month try answering our book club questions published every month. Just search in our footnotes section for the ‘Get Involved’ articles. We will also be reviewing a Christmas book in December so keep an eye out for the Lowdown on it soon.