2019 Edgar Award Winner
Reminiscent of the bestsellers of Laura Lippman and Harlan Coben—with a dose of Big Little Lies or Stranger Things—an absorbing, addictive tale of psychological suspense from the author of the highly acclaimed and Edgar Award-nominated What Remains of Me and the USA Today bestselling and Shamus Award-winning Brenna Spector series, in which a seemingly open-and-shut police case with a clear-cut hero and villain turns out to be anything but simple.
Late one night in the quiet Hudson Valley town of Havenkill, a distraught woman stumbles into the police station—and lives are changed forever.
Aimee En, once a darling of the ’80s pop music scene, claims that a teenage boy stole her car, then ran over another young man who'd rushed to help.
As Liam Miller’s life hangs in the balance, the events of that fateful night begin to come into focus. But is everything as it seems?
The case quickly consumes social media, transforming Liam, a local high school football star, into a folk hero, and the suspect, a high school outcast named Wade Reed, into a depraved would-be killer. But is Wade really guilty? And if he isn't, why won't he talk?
Told from a kaleidoscope of viewpoints—Wade's mother Jackie, his younger brother Connor, Aimee En and Pearl Maze, a young police officer with a tragic past, If I Die Tonight is a story of family ties and dark secrets—and the lengths we'll go to protect ourselves.
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About the Author
Alison Gaylin is the award-winning author of Hide Your Eyes and its sequel, You Kill Me; the standalones Trashed and Heartless; and the Brenna Spector series: And She Was, Into the Dark, and Stay with Me. A graduate of Northwestern University and of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, she lives with her husband and daughter in Woodstock, New York.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Good read. Loved it
This book is a mystery/thriller delight! A complete mix of murder mystery with character drama - I LOVED how Alison Gaylin pulled this story out from multiple perspectives. A washed up 80's pop/punk star turns up in a small town cop shop soaking wet and hysterical, claiming she was car jacked and a local teenager was killed trying to stop the crime. But who was this carjacker? And what really happened that night? Honestly, this one nearly surprised me with the sheer suspense of the storyline. The story is tight from start to finish, with characters that hit close to home and who were complex and terrifically flawed. We all know I love a flawed character!!! This one should be on your to-read pile for summer - it makes for quick reading on a sunny patio.
Favorite Quotes: Nobody’s perfect… What gets us in trouble is when we try and pretend we are. The bartender at Club Halifax was wearing flannel Snoopy pajama pants and a skintight tank top with a cannabis-leaf pattern. Yet still she was overdressed for this dismal place, which smelled of mold and decades-old cigarette smoke – an asthma attack waiting to happen. I dated a guy once who wanted to know how far drive it was from Miami to Florida… He also thought Rosetta Stone was a civil rights leader. Thank God he was cute. Mason Marx was short and squat, with mean little pig eyes and the personality of bad cheese. … Jackie could not stand that mustache. Her eyes were drawn to it whenever Wacksman spoke, so thick and luxuriant she couldn’t help but imagine him grooming it, using a tiny tortoiseshell comb and a rack of imported oils as though it were a pet. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me… Such a strange expression – as though the heart were a messy closet you dug around in, forgiveness stashed in some long forgotten shoe box. My Review: If I Die Tonight initially appeared to be a slowly developing tale of family drama with a divorced single mother raising two teenage boys, one of which appeared deeply troubled and even more so when a tragic fatality struck the small town and it seemed a foregone conclusion that the troubled youth was involved. The characters were not immediately likable or admirable so it wasn’t a tale I was instantly sucked into, yet it held my attention and continued to draw me in. Notice I said initially, it wasn’t until the plot exploded with a confluence of twist after twist that I appreciated the subtlety and care the author had taken in crafting and planting the various elements of several mysteries that compounded and converged. The buildup was incremental and deftly devised, like a spider weaving a web. It was ingenious. I was so wrong in my hypothesis and would never have suspected the end result, and I was more than thrilled with the satisfying conclusion and reading experience. The stealthy and clever wordsmith Alison Gaylin has a new fangirl.
If I Die Tonight is Alison Gaylin's newest release. This was a first read of this author for me, but it won't be the last. Small town USA. An aging pop star who goes by the name Amie Em stumbles in the local police station, saying she was carjacked by a teenaged boy. Another boy named Liam tried to stop the theft and was critically injured. But her story keeps changing and there are gaping holes in her recounting of the crime. The finger is inevitably pointed at Wade - a high school outcast. Gaylin mirrors today's society- much of the case is debated online in various social forums. The presumption of innocent until proven guilty doesn't figure into the diatribe.. A young man's life is irrevocably changed and the injured teen becomes a downed hero to the town. But is Wade guilty? He refuses to speak about that night. His mother Jackie knows he is not capable of such an act. Or is he? Gaylin tells this story through many points of view, giving the reader options as to what the outcome might be. I felt for Jackie as she struggled to clear her son's name. Gaylin's depictions of her emotions and relationships with her sons was well done. But my favourite supporting character was Officer Pearl Maze. She has her own issues, but was the clearest thinking character for me. (And I'd really like to see her in another book.) Gaylin provides red herrings and alternative outcomes along the way to the final whodunit. I admit to having my suspicions about one character, who was just a little too calm and helpful for me. And yes, they did figure into the final reveal. But, that in no way detracted from my enjoyment of If I Die Tonight. A n entertaining read and I will be picking up Gaylin's next book.
If I Die Tonight by Alison Gaylin is a highly recommended novel of psychological suspense. Late one night in the town of Havenkill, a washed up 80's pop star, Aimee En, stumbles into the police station claiming that she was the victim of a carjacking. She claims that a teenage boy stole her car and then ran over another teen boy who tried to help her. Liam Miller, the high school football star who tried to help, is hospitalized and fighting for his life. Wade Reed is a school outcast and the number one suspect. As Liam obtains cult-like status, the rumors about Wade increase. Everything doesn't quite add up, however, and it might not be exactly what it seems to be. The police have some concerns about Aimee En's version of events. There are also questions about Liam and his friends, in spite of the fact that the teenage social-media-finger-pointing-and-shaming-storm is in full swing and after Wade. The story unfold between the viewpoints of multiple characters, including police officer Pearl Maze, Wade's mother Jackie, his younger brother Connor, and Aimee En. If I Die Tonight opens with a Facebook message from Wade saying that he will be dead by the time people read the message. This sets the tone for the story, since you know that the end result will be this message. The overriding question is, though, is Wade guilty? He's not talking and not defending himself. He was out of the house, smoking, and wandering who knows where that night, but why were the other boys also out in the wee hours of the morning? Why would Aimee be driving around on a cold night with her car window open, and was that alcohol Officer Maze smelled on her breath? The writing is great and the characters are well done in this character-driven drama. I especially liked the thoughtfulness and logic from Officer Pearl Maze. Jackie was fiercely protective of her boys and this was clearly well-established and depicted realistically. The fire-storm of teens on social media jumping to erroneous conclusions, overstating the facts, following the crowd, making a deity out of Liam, and in general being all emotions with little logic was perfectly captured. And it's not just teens who can be illogical and reactive in this small town. The plot was relatively fast-paced after the initial set up. Gaylin carefully reveals more clues and information as the story continues and works its way through several contemporary problems and social issues. Astute readers might be able to guess where it is going, but the journey is worth reaching the final conclusion. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.