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Aussie author Jaye Ford has written another very clever and riveting psychological suspense thriller that grabbed me from the beginning and kept me enthralled and guessing almost to the very end.
Journalist Miranda Jack has been traumatised by the unexplained hit-and-run death of her investigative journalist husband, Nick, a year ago. Since then the shock has left her unable to continue her career as a promising journalist. In an attempt to move on with her life she is relocating up the coast from Sydney to Newcastle with her young daughter Zoe to stay with her Aunt. Just after shutting up her apartment for the last time she is waiting at traffic lights to turn onto the expressway on-ramp when a man jumps into her car, points a gun at her and forces her to drive at high speed up the motorway.
Miranda (better known as Jax) has to listen to the paranoid rants of Brendan Walsh who claims that he is "already dead", people are chasing him and he can't hide from nano-spiders laying eggs in his brain. He continually looks around and up in the sky see if anyone is following them. At other times Brendan collapses into a shivering mass of stress but still keeps his gun pointed at her. Then there are moments of sanity when he tells Jax a little about his life, and his love for his wife and young son. Jax is stunned when he tells her that he had met her five years before when she had interviewed soldiers and their wives prior to postings to Afghanistan.
Jax frantically looks for ways to escape but Brendan keeps up the pressure, making her drive dangerously to evade unknown and invisible followers. Eventually the chase ends tragically and the police take over. The experience leaves Jax traumatised by the event but she is the kind of person who can't walk away without asking questions about the possibility that Brendan may have had moments of truth. This puts Jax in dangerous situations, which might even get her killed and also directly threaten her family.
The first few chapters of the book about the car-jacking, Brendan's ravings and the "chase" are some of the most nail-biting and action-packed writing I have read for a while. Jaye Ford unfolds an intense psychological drama about a damaged but strong young woman fighting with all her physical, emotional and mental powers to find an answer to the situations that surround her.
This is a top class, action-packed, very human and frequently very moving story which will keep you involved at all times and guessing almost to the end. The book is set in in parts of Sydney and Newcastle that are very familiar to me and are brilliantly described.
There were a few unfinished plot elements that puzzled me but I think they may be seed roots left by the author to grow a sequel about the unexplained death of Nick. I do hope so as Jax is a powerful, complex and wounded character and Jaye Ford is a writer at the top of her form.
Earlier this year I really enjoyed BLOOD SECRET and commented that Jaye Ford is a world class author of psychological thrillers. ALREADY DEAD confirms my opinion - it was a great read and is highly recommended to those who like this kind of thriller.
My thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for a copy of this book for review.