When a young child and his mother go missing, the police ask for Anna Winger's help in analyzing the note left behind. A handwriting specialist, Anna often helps with human relations and what she calls her lonelyhearts - those asking for Anna's opinion on a loved one's handwriting. It happens less often, but it's not rare for Anna to consult on a criminal investigation.
What is rare is for Anna to get wrapped up in said investigation. But something about this one nags at her - the missing mother, the most obvious suspect in what the police are calling a kidnapping, is a woman who reminds Anna of herself. A woman Anna hopes got away from whatever her handwriting indicated she was frightened of. What Anna isn't so sure of is whether the mom took the toddler with her. And when the toddler's babysitter turns up murdered, she suspects the worst.
Anna is an interesting character. She's jumpy and easily shaken, moving her little family of two around at the earliest sign of discovery. Discovery of her true identity, that is. See Anna is running from something herself. Something that forces her to pick up and relocate frequently.
But while Anna is mostly happy in her life, her thirteen-year-old son is not.
So Anna has complications in her personal life already when she's asked to consult on this case. And again, she makes great effort not only to not get involved, but to not get attached. She has no real friends and nothing ever tying her to any one place.
As the story unfolds, we learn more about Anna (Leeanna) her reason for constantly moving starts to become more clear, as does her increasing certainty that the mother in the missing child case isn't the culprit. But as the case progresses, her son Joshua begins acting out more and more and Anna's concentration is wavering. She thinks it's time to move again, she's sure her secrets have been found out, and it begins affecting her ability to do her job.
Of course the case becomes more complicated (see dead babysitter) and then the local sheriff begins asking for more and more of Anna's time.
Handwriting analysis is something I've come across only a few times so far. It's a fascinating science, one that adds to Anna's fearfulness - imagine if you could see anger and frustration otherwise hiding in those around you? Anna even takes pains not to look at her own son's handwriting. And to be fair, he takes pains not to let her see it - as do others - out of obvious fear of what Anna might glean.
I quite enjoyed this latest (my first) from Rader-Day. The pacing was great, a bit more of a slow burn than I'd expected but it worked perfectly for the story. There were, I felt, a few hiccups in the plot. Places where various threads came together a bit too fast and without being fully developed, but not to the point that it affected my overall enjoyment of the read.
All in all, The Day I Died is a solid thriller with a great heroine and Lori Rader-Day is definitely someone I'll be reading more of!
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For more on Lori Rader-Day and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.
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