UNTIL THE DAY I DIE by Emily Carpenter
Lake Union; 3/12/19
CBTB Rating: 4/5
The Verdict: binge-worthy “popcorn reading”
A woman grieving the loss of her husband is thrown into the center of a shocking conspiracy in suspense writer Emily Carpenter’s page-turning newest. In UNTIL THE DAY I DIE, suburban bliss is shattered by a tragic accident: in an instant, Erin’s beloved husband is gone, leaving her and her teenage daughter, Shorie, to fend for themselves. In the wake of this unthinkable tragedy, Erin’s mental state begins to unravel. As she spirals towards rock bottom, her best friends (and the co-founders of the prominent tech company Erin and her husband ran) intervene, sending Erin to a luxury rehabilitation center on a remote Caribbean island. What could go wrong? A lot, as it turns out. UNTIL THE DAY I DIE is hair-raising, cinematic fun to read. From its interpersonal secrets to its high-stakes chase scenes in the Caribbean jungle, UNTIL THE DAY I DIE delivers thrills both big and small - a highly entertaining and larger-than-life concoction. Readers in the market for a binge-worthy book with a healthy dose of drama will find Carpenter’s UNTIL THE DAY I DIE right up their alley. (It doesn’t hurt that the cover is absolutely gorgeous, either!)
From the bestselling author of Burying the Honeysuckle Girls comes a riveting novel about a mother and daughter separated by grief, secrets, and a conspiracy that threatens to destroy their lives.
If there’s a healthy way to grieve, Erin Gaines hasn’t found it. After her husband’s sudden death, the runaway success of the tech company they built with their best friends has become overwhelming. Her nerves are frayed, she’s disengaged, and her frustrated daughter, Shorie, is pulling away from her. Maybe Erin’s friends and family are right. Maybe a few weeks at a spa resort in the Caribbean islands is just what she needs to hit the reset button…
Shorie is not only worried about her mother’s mental state but also for the future of her parents’ company. Especially when she begins to suspect that not all of Erin’s colleagues can be trusted. It seems someone is spinning an intricate web of deception—the foundation for a conspiracy that is putting everything, and everyone she loves, at risk. And she may be the only one who can stop it.
Now, thousands of miles away in a remote, and oftentimes menacing, tropical jungle, Erin is beginning to have similar fears. Things at the resort aren’t exactly how the brochure described, and unless she’s losing her mind, Erin’s pretty sure she wasn’t sent there to recover—she was sent to disappear.
Emily Carpenter is a pro at writing “popcorn reads” - those devour-in-one-sitting confections that deliver just the right balance of entertainment value, drama, and suspense. UNTIL THE DAY I DIE is no exception. In this page-turner, Carpenter takes readers from an ordinary suburban neighborhood to the wilds of the Caribbean jungle alongside her compelling protagonist, Erin—and she also takes readers into the intimate battle with grief that Erin and her daughter are facing. UNTIL THE DAY I DIE begins with a death: Erin’s beloved husband passes away in a tragic car accident. This loss becomes the catalyst for the story’s action, and for the story’s tender and compelling consideration of grief and its ramifications. Like the majority of the books I consider “popcorn reads,” UNTIL THE DAY I DIE serves up a lighter take on crime fiction—but the duality of this story - its dramatic jungle adventures and its heart-tugging reflections on loss - give it a welcome sense of balance. If lighter suspense with a healthy dose of drama, secrets, and betrayals sounds up your alley, UNTIL THE DAY I DIE is for you.
At the heart of UNTIL THE DAY I DIE are two strong female protagonists, a mother-daughter duo whose relationship is all the more compelling (and realistic!) for its tension and conflicts. Erin is a devoted mother, a grieving widow, and an entrepreneur; her daughter, Shorie, is a teenager embarking on her promising college career. Looming large between the two is the loss of Shorie’s father (Erin’s husband). Carpenter thoughtfully probes the way different personalities grapple with and process loss through these two characters. As Erin becomes increasingly unhinged, her business falling apart and her relationships suffering, her daughter Shorie relies on her keen intellect and matter-of-fact worldview to process the loss. The result? Mother and daughter clash, and Shorie agrees when her mothers’ friends suggest sending Erin to a remote rehabilitation facility to recover. But with Erin out of the picture, Shorie becomes suspicious—could the adults in her life, the very people she should be able to trust during this tumultuous time, be scheming against her mother? Carpenter ratchets up the tension - and the stakes - as Shorie begins to quietly investigate her mother’s friends and business partners. Interpersonal betrayals, secrets, and conspiracies abound; readers who prefer down-to-earth, realistic crime fiction may find this component of the story a bit over the top, but if you can suspend reality just a bit, you will be totally swept up in the web of deceit Carpenter crafts here.
Meanwhile, in the Caribbean, Erin faces challenges of her own. The “wellness retreat” she believes she has been sent to has a dark side. Carpenter does a superb job crafting this locale; the “retreat” in question is rendered in vivid detail, from its picture-perfect decor and impeccable landscaping to its charismatic and charming founder. This locale feels built for the big screen, and Carpenter does an excellent job bringing it to life right in front of the reader’s eyes. The “retreat” in question is uncannily perfect - a feeling both Erin and the reader will pick up on from the outset. But neither Erin nor the reader could imagine what the retreat and its “treatment programs” will have in store for its participants. Carpenter drops hint after tantalizing hint at what’s to come... and boy, is the payoff worth it. Carpenter puts Erin through her paces here, pitting her against the wilds of the jungle and the dark design of individuals on the island. Readers will find gripping chase scenes and hold-your-breath suspense in this plotline, as Erin navigates the layers of dangers that lie in wait for her. UNTIL THE DAY I DIE revels in its cinematic details, and this is perhaps nowhere as evident as in Erin’s “retreat” experience. Every element of this storyline is larger than life; it may not be the most realistic (something to keep in mind when determining if this book is for you), but boy is it packed with entertainment value.
The one element of UNTIL THE DAY I DIE that didn’t land quite as well for me came in its conclusion. One of the key selling points of this book is its binge-worthy pacing, but I actually could have done with a bit more time spent in the story’s final pages. There’s an abruptness to the conclusion of UNTIL THE DAY I DIE that wasn’t quite satisfying to this reader; the ultimate reveal of this story is jaw-dropping and dramatic in such a fun (and dark) way, but I wished for just a bit more time spent delving into the “why” and “how” of the tangled maze readers will discover exists at the core of the book. But take this with a grain of salt: this is a personal preference solely. Carpenter does indeed tie together all the story’s threads in her conclusion, to jaw-dropping effect at that. All in all, UNTIL THE DAY I DIE is entertaining and addictive from first to last - a page-turning suspense novel you will devour in one or two sittings.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions my own.
Paperback: 347 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (March 12, 2019)
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