Miriam Black knows how you will die. All she has to do is touch your skin and she gets a vision of how and when it will happen. Every time she’s tried to prevent a person’s death, she’s only succeeded in making it inevitable so instead she’s decided to use it to her advantage - scrounging a living by hooking up with those due to die shortly and then robbing them of cash and valuables after they’ve gone. But when she meets hulking truck driver Louis Darling, she sees him being horribly murdered in 30 days time as he calls out her name.
Miriam knows that she can’t save Louis and she’s distracted from even trying by ruthless conman Ashley Gaynes, who’s discovered the truth about her ability and wants to use it for his own financial ends. But Miriam’s fate is inextricably linked with Louis’s and there are forces out there that have plans for her gift and are determined to make her confront her destiny …
Chuck Wendig’s hard-boiled contemporary fantasy noir is a foul-mouthed, rollercoaster ride with a damaged, self-absorbed main character. Whether you like the book depends on whether you like Miriam and I thought she was terrific – a broken narcissistic cynic who’s in dire need of rescuing. Her relationship with the decent, hulking Louis who’s still traumatised by the death of his wife is touching and Wendig does well in having you dislike Miriam for what she’s doing while also understanding why she does it. It’s also a nice counterpoint to the hot sex and cold manipulation that ties her to the venal Ashley. The story’s split between what’s happening to Miriam now and a flashback interview she gives where she describes how her gift works and how she came to have it. My only real criticism is that the villains of the piece are underdeveloped and I’d have liked to have seen a more fleshed out motivation for their actions.
The dialogue in this novel is particularly good with Miriam’s foul-mouthed patter rattling along like a machine gun and I liked the fact that when Wendig reveals her backstory, it’s presented in unsentimental terms. The plot rattles along nicely with the different strands coming together in a satisfying way and although I did find the antagonists underdeveloped, I liked where Wendig took Miriam and will definitely read the sequel.