Author: Jaye Ford
Bantam Australia RRP $32.99
Review: Monique Mulligan
Miranda shrank away from him, arm pressed to the driver’s door. ‘What’s your name?’
‘I’m already dead. That’s my name now. That’s what they called me. I’m Already Dead.’
Readers are taken for a thrilling ride with Jaye Ford’s latest action-packed suspense novel, Already Dead. There’s no time wasted getting to the action and just when it seems like it’s peaked … it keeps going. A warning – it’s hard to put this one down.
What would you do if someone jumped in your car and pointed a gun at you? If you were told to drive at high speed by a man claiming he’s being chased? That’s the situation journalist Miranda Jack, or Jax, faces one busy Monday afternoon in Sydney. Waiting at traffic lights on her way to Newcastle, where she’s moving with her daughter Zoe, she’s shocked and scared when a stranger jumps in her car and forces her to drive up the motorway; he’s frantic, paranoid and ranting about being watched. As Miranda complies, he reveals that he is Brendan Walsh, ex-army and now security, and the picture of a man tormented by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder emerges. Is he on a suicide mission? Is his wife and son in danger … from him? Miranda’s attempts to reason with Brendan end in tragedy and while she’s safe, the journalist in her can’t forget. As she starts asking questions, she comes to believe that now she’s the one being watched … and her life might be in danger. Has she been “infected” by Brendan’s paranoia, or are her questions about to get her killed?
This novel pushed my buttons on a number of levels. Firstly, it’s a well-written work of suspense, with Ford creating a believable atmosphere of tension by its fast-paced storyline and persistent “what if” triggers for readers. On a more personal level, my response was affected by a number of parallels to my own life. I’m a former journalist, so I can well relate to Jax’s curiosity and need-to-know approach. I could picture the motorway Brendan and Jax drove up because I’ve been there; I could even picture the old ice-creamery mentioned in passing because I stopped there as a child. What really resonated with me is not something I’m going to unpack in detail, but I feel deserves a brief mention: like the character, Brendan, my ex-husband was in the army, served overseas, and came back with PTSD. In fact, he served at the same base mentioned in the novel. I know how PTSD can impact on relationships, I know how the flight-or-flight response can spiral out of control … so I could relate even more so to Brendan’s wife, than to Jax. It is interesting reading a book with so many parallels (and there were more than I’ve mentioned) to your own life. Difficult, too, depending on where you are in your journey. This one did hit close to home a number of times, so it amped up the tension even more, and for that reason only, I did have to put this one down and regroup.
Overall, another great offering from Jaye Ford – she’s going from strength to strength.
Available from good bookstores and Random House Australia. My copy was courtesy of Random House.
Bookish treat: I drank warm cups of tea to settle my nerves. And I ate some chocolate chips from the pantry, but they are very small and don’t count.
Sounds great, Monique. That’s awful about your ex though! Must have been so hard to deal with…
What a scary sounding book and I can imagine with your history with your ex, it raised a lot of emotions for you. I hope the tea and (very small) cookies worked their magic to ease your heart rate.
The book is full of tension. Actually, I coped quite well with it, once I got over the shock of all the parallels. It was a difficult time for all involved, as it is for anyone coping with PTSD or secondary PTSD.