Title: Every Time He Dies
Author: Tara East
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery
Date of Publication: November 5, 2019
When Daphne’s cop fiance dies in an accident that she feels responsible for, she gives up her career dreams of becoming a toxicologist and instead becomes an embalmer. A year and a half later, she finds a wristwatch on the ground at the beach, and she is suddenly haunted by the ghost of a man who doesn’t remember who he is or how he died. Daphne is forced to confront the grief of losing her fiance while helping this man to find peace. Meanwhile, her estranged cop father is investigating a brutal murder, and Daphne unknowingly finds herself caught in the killer’s crosshairs…
Every Time He Dies is a gripping read from its very first pages. Told in the third person, there are multiple perspectives shown throughout the novel, including those of Daphne and her father. It isn’t clear right away where the story is going to go, and there are several seemingly disconnected subplots. Tara East expertly weaves from one to the other, so that the two subplots do not actually seem all that disjointed. All the subplots tie together quite nicely in a climactic end to a thrilling read. There are no plot holes in this thrill ride.
There are quite a few twists and turns in the plot, and a couple of them were shocking. For one of them, I stared at the page for a couple of moments, then grabbed my notebook and was like “I gotta remember to mention this”. I love a book that lays out the clues to a twist yet diverts your attention from them, so that when there’s the big “reveal”, you realize that you could have seen it coming had you known where to look.
Daphne (Daff) is a well-rounded main character. She’s tough, yet relatable, and it was honestly refreshing to read a book about a woman who makes reasonable decisions. When she first sees Liam, the ghost, she assumes she has a head injury, yet this yarn isn’t overplayed when it eventually becomes clear to her that she doesn’t have brain damage and isn’t insane. Liam is real, and she spends the appropriate amount of time denying this. So often when books explore the supernatural, the one with the “scientific” mind won’t believe, even when the truth smacks them in the face (sometimes quite literally).
While Daphne’s been grieving her dead fiance for the last year and a half, and this loss has clearly impacted her life decisions and her outlook on life, her point of view scenes don’t have too dark of an edge to them. The book maintains a tense atmosphere, but without delving into the arena of dark fiction. The plot is thrilling, the characters are damaged, but there is still a sense of hope that all will work itself out in the end. (I won’t tell you if it does or not–you’ll have to read it to find out!)
As mentioned earlier, the two primary points of view come from Daphne and her father, Lawrence. I particularly enjoyed exploring their relationship, which is virtually non-existent in the beginning of the book, as they haven’t spoken with each other in over four years. I was particularly engaged in this relationship, which to me was a highlight of the book.
Every Time He Dies has a compelling writing style, with just enough time spent on description to set the scene, but not so much that the pacing suffers for it. The writing is easy to follow, and there are occasional moments of poetry in the style, which makes for a rewarding read.
The final readers’ advisory appeal element is ‘setting’. When Daphne suddenly develops psychic powers, I was a little worried that they wouldn’t be consistent, which would ruin the realism of the way that psychics work in this book (at least, for me). However, it became clear that Daphne’s abilities are somewhat limited, and every vision that she has serves to propel the plot forward with clues and insights into characters.
I recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a cozy mystery for younger audiences, one that explores the relationship between a woman and her estranged father, and one that has a focus on the supernatural.
*Thank you to the author for the advanced reader copy for review*
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