For fans of Lianne Moriarty, Paula Hawkins, and Tana French, an arresting debut novel of psychological suspense: a young journalist struggles to keep the demons of her alcoholism at bay as she finds her purpose again in tackling the mystery of a shocking headline-making crime, still unsolved after fifteen years.
Amy Stevenson was the biggest news story of 1995. Only fifteen years old, Amy disappeared walking home from school one day and was found in a coma three days later. Her attacker was never identified and her angelic face was plastered across every paper and nightly news segment.
Fifteen years later, Amy lies in the hospital, surrounded by 90’s Britpop posters, forgotten by the world until reporter Alex Dale stumbles across her while researching a routine story on vegetative patients.
Remembering Amy’s story like it was yesterday, she feels compelled to solve the long-cold case.
The only problem is, Alex is just as lost as Amy—her alcoholism has cost her everything including her marriage and her professional reputation.
In the hopes that finding Amy’s attacker will be her own salvation as well, Alex embarks on a dangerous investigation, suspecting someone close to Amy.
Told in the present by an increasingly fragile Alex and in dream-like flashbacks by Amy as she floats in a fog of memories, dreams, and music from 1995, Try Not to Breathe unfolds layer by layer to a breathtaking conclusion.
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
My Rating: **** (4 stars)
Try Not to Breathe is a terrific thriller from a first time novelist, and I’m already looking forward to her next book. Touted as being “for fans of Paula Hawkins”, I was expecting another unreliable narrator thriller, but this story is different. As it says in the description, it is told from both Amy and Alex’s points of view, but also from Amy’s childhood boyfriend’s point of view. Two of the narrators are not unreliable. Alex and Jake / Jacob just don’t have all of the answers yet, and we learn any new information right along with them. Amy is another story. In her dream-like state, sometimes she remembers things, and sometimes not. When she does have useful information she is unable to communicate it to anyone.
This book is a great mystery, but it is also a heartbreaking story of a girl left to live inside her own mind after a terrible attack left her in a near vegetative state, and the effect that her attack has on her family and those who love her. However much liberty the author may have taken in creating Amy’s world, she did a great job of bringing life to a character who was seen as already dead by so many.
I would recommend this one to all mystery / thriller fans. Whether you are a fan of the unreliable narrator trope or not, this is an enjoyable read.
NOTE: I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.