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Book Review: If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch

The title of Emily Koch’s debut novel, If I Die Before I Wake, snagged my interest and its tagline ‘How do you solve your own murder?’, only intrigued me further, so I read the blurb (below). Not only did I want to hear Alex’s story but I also needed to see how Emily Koch was going to make the telling of it work.

HOW DO YOU SOLVE YOUR OWN MURDER?

Everyone believes Alex is in a coma, unlikely to ever wake up. As his family debate withdrawing life support, and his friends talk about how his girlfriend Bea needs to move on, he can only listen.

But Alex soon begins to suspect that the accident that put him here wasn’t really an accident. Even worse, the perpetrator is still out there and Alex is not the only one in danger.

As he goes over a series of clues from his past, Alex must use his remaining senses to solve the mystery of who tried to kill him, and try to protect those he loves, before they decide to let him go.

If you’re willing to suspend disbelief as to how many of the conversations Alex needs to eavesdrop on in order to solve this case are conveniently carried out in his hospital room, I think you’ll enjoy reading this as much as I did. Given how incapacitated Alex is, this suspension of disbelief came surprisingly easily. Despite strenuous effort on his part, he fails to manage to communicate with either medical staff or his friends and family resulting in them being more frank in his presence than might otherwise have been the case or their talking over him as if he’s no longer there, and already as good as dead.

What carries this through for me is how much Emily Koch is able to put you in Alex’s bed, so to speak. I don’t think it would work nearly as well, if she didn’t spend as much time and description on Alex and the frustrating limitations he is up against. She not only puts you in his head but gives you an Alex-eye view of what it’s like to lie in that hospital bed, incapacitated, unable to communicate on the most basic of levels and frustrated by his inability to do so yet still mentally agile and with a mystery to solve.

I enjoyed this because it was sufficiently different thanks to Alex’s condition, the fact that he’s the one trying to solve the mystery, and the obstacles this places in his way of working out how he ended up in a hospital bed, and why. If I Die Before I Wake is a refreshingly different thriller and a surprisingly tense adrenalin ride of a novel considering it all takes place in a hospital room.

If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch is published by Harvill Secker, an imprint of Penguin Random House. It is available as an audiobook and ebook and in hardback. You can find it at Amazon UK, Audible UK, Foyles, Hive (supporting your local independent bookshop), Waterstones or Wordery. You can find out more about Emily Koch and her writing on her Author Website or by following her on Twitter

My thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy via NetGalley.

*GIVEAWAY* I have one hardback of If I Die Before I Wake to give away. Leave a comment below and the squirrels will pick a winner at the end of the week. 

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