Good book, shame about the ending (3.5 stars)
Source- review copy
Published by Transworld Digital- 20th November 2014
I read the Kindle edition which is 400 pages.
I received this book for review a while ago now through Netgalley and I put off reading it as I wanted to read a Christmas-themed novel slightly closer to Christmas… despite this being a murder-thriller novel and all. I’m a bit weird like that. Anyway, I managed to complete it this afternoon and though I enjoyed it, suffice to say it didn’t leave me feeling remotely festive 🙂 I also found myself feeling a bit let-down by its ending, which was pretty abrupt. I hate it when I invest in a novel only for the ending to disappoint.
It’s Christmas Eve and Jessica Gold is doing some last minute shopping on Oxford Street when she encounters the handsome Dominic in a cafe. Recklessly, she agrees to go home with him- only for him to hold her captive in his apartment. It soon becomes apparent that he has planned this kidnap, as to mark the twelve days of Christmas he gives Jessica a gift- each one more sinister than the last. Now as the twelfth day comes closer it is evident that for Jessica there may be no way out…
Told from the perspective of two characters- that of Jessica and Kim, a policewoman- and comprising of a ‘before’ and ‘after’ type scenario, there were a lot of things I liked about this novel, despite me not immediately warming to it. For starters, there was a good sense of intrigue about Jessica. Given her mental state and questionable behaviour, the reader ascertains from the start that she is an unreliable narrator- though the summary I read about the story sort of suggested that anyway. She hears voices and the way she acts isn’t what could be categorised as ‘normal.’ As events unfold it becomes apparent that not everything is crystal-cut about the entire situation. I felt sorry for what she had been through yet I found myself second-guessing her every move. I really like it when a book makes you question the content and motive of its characters.
I think the author did a great job in creating a feeling of tension and foreboding from the very start of the story too. Dominic and his behaviour is chilling and his manner left me feeling uncomfortable. He is definitely one of the more sinister characters I have encountered in fiction as of late. From the outside he is seemingly your everyday, normal, handsome guy, yet he turns out to have so many issues. I was really fascinated when reading about him. It’s not hard to see why Jessica was attracted to him- and rather foolishly left with him- though her behaviour was definitely naive at best.
In terms of what I didn’t like about this book, I seriously questioned whether there was the need to have the policewoman, Kim, even in the story at all. I didn’t like her, nor how she treated her own family. I get that she was there purely to try and unravel the mystery, but that aside she felt sort of pointless. Her own bleak story juxtaposed against Jessica’s just didn’t feel needed- and I didn’t think she was very well-developed either. This was demonstrated in how her own tale just sort of petered out and I found myself not being very interested in her life.
This story started out with so much promise, the kind of mystery-crime thriller that encapsulates everything I love about reading this genre; then it all grew sort of far-fetched and silly about three-quarters of the way through. Light was shed on the situation admittedly, but to me it felt almost as if the author had dug herself into some kind of plot-hole and needed to find a way out of it so went for the simplest option possible to escape. The plot suddenly had too many coincidences and clichés and I really hate it when that happens.
Dying for Christmas isn’t a bad book by any means and certainly managed to hold my attention for the most part. It’s pacey and full of twists and turns- a few of which I admittedly didn’t anticipate- but unfortunately I just can’t overlook that substandard ending. I think if you are looking for a quick, escapist crime novel that you don’t want to tax your brain with, then this is perfect reading material- especially if you are trying to find something containing some slightly seasonal elements at this time of year.