I am missing. Held captive by a blue-eyed stranger. To mark the twelve days of Christmas, he gives me a gift every day, each more horrible than the last. The twelfth day is getting closer. After that, there’ll be no more Christmas cheer for me. No mince pies, no carols. No way out …But I have a secret. No-one has guessed it. Will you?
Dying For Christmas by Tammy Cohen was published by Black Swan (Transworld) in paperback on 20 November 2013, and is the author's fifth novel.
Tammy Cohen (she also writes as Tamar Cohen) is one of my favourite authors. I have devoured each of her previous four books. Her last book; The Broken, was a bit of a change in direction for her in that it was darker and much more of a thriller than her earlier books. Dying For Christmas is even darker, more chilling, certainly thrilling and gripped me completely from the first page.
Dying For Christmas is a story written in two parts; Part One is narrated by Jessica Gold. Silly Jessica Gold, a woman who is convinced that she will be dead before anyone gets a chance to read her story. She will be dead because she was silly, and that silliness has resulted in the terrifying experience that she recounts on every page. Dominic seemed like such a nice, friendly guy when they met in the cafe on Christmas Eve. He showed far more interest in her than Travis, her boyfriend, had done for months. A quick drink wouldn't do any harm would it? Would it?
Kept a prisoner in Dominic's flat over the twelve days of Christmas, with a gift for each day, Jessica's horror increases daily. As Dominic's character is exposed with each gift, Jessica realises that this really could be her very last Christmas.
I'm not going to go into detail, but the cover of this novel tells us that this is 'Misery meets Gone Girl', well I haven't actually read Gone Girl, but Misery is one of the most graphic, horrific, yet intensely clever pieces of thriller writing that I've ever read, and Dying For Christmas is up there alongside it, without a doubt.
And then, bang, there's Part Two and no, I didn't guess Jessica's secret. The huge, enormous secret is revealed slowly throughout Part Two and it is almost as chilling and as shocking as Dominic's story in Part One. Tammy Cohen's writing is chilling and compelling, this is the sort of story that makes you glance over your shoulder as you are reading ..... just in case.
Throughout the story, the reader is also caught up in the personal story of Kim, the police investigator leading the enquiry into Jessica's disappearance. Kim's story is a welcome relief from the horror that lies within the walls of Dominic's flat, but is an emotional tale in itself. Kim is a fascinating character who I'd really like to learn more about.
Tammy Cohen has created another of her trademark unreliable narrators in Jessica. I'm particularly fond of an unreliable narrator, I like the unease and the suspicion that these characters create within a story and this author does this so very very well.
Chilling, exhilarating and really quite brilliant. Dying For Christmas is an excellently written thriller from an incredibly talented author.
Read my reviews of Tammy Cohen's first four novels, here on Random Things: The Mistress's Revenge (April 2011), The War of the Wives (August 2012), Someone Else's Wedding (June 2013), and The Broken (May 2014).
Tammy Cohen is a freelance journalist. A late starter to fiction (and to other things besides), her previous four novels are The Mistress's Revenge, The War of the Wives, Someone Else's Wedding and The Broken. She is a Writer in Residence at Kingston University and lives in North London with her partner and three (nearly) grown children, plus one very badly behaved dog.
Follow her on Twitter @MsTamarCohen