Dying for Christmas is the first Tammy Cohen novel I read. During the promotional tour, Sarah Harwold – from Transworld books – kindly sent me a review copy and Books & Reviews hosted a 3-book giveaway to celebrate the release. Two weeks ago I started feeling really Christmasy and I thought this book was perfect: crime fiction and Christmas? I’m in.
I am missing. Held captive by a blue-eyed stranger. To mark the twelve days of Christmas, he gives me a gift every day, each more horrible than the last. The twelfth day is getting closer. After that, there’ll be no more Christmas cheer for me. No mince pies, no carols. No way out .
But I have a secret. No-one has guessed it. Will you?
Before opening the book, I already have one huge problem with it, and it was its marketing strategy. The front cover of my edition included a sticker that said “Gone Girl meets Misery“. You know I love Gone Girl, you know how much I adore Amy Dunne, but you cannot tell the audience that the book is a Gone Girl, because then you are spoiling it: there will be a major twist, a female character that is not what she seems. However, I convinced myself I was not sure what this twist was going to be, because after all, I did not get the Misery reference. So, I started reading and I have to admit I was actually surprised. However, I want authors to surprise me in ways that are logical or that could have hinted throughout the novel. But when authors come up with “it was all a dream!” explanations – and this it not what happens in the novel – I do not feel satisfied.
But the crime, well, that was good. I have not read the shall-not-be-named psuedo-erotic trilogy everyone has been talking about for the last two years, but Dying for Christmas felt like a raw and way more realistic portrayal of female submission. Now, I know the trilogy is about a love affair – an abusive one I would add, but let’s forget this – while Dying for Christmas is about a kidnap and a murder, but still. Abusive relationships of any kind that imply the woman’s submission leave traces on the body, and Cohen did a great job describing them. Hair, nails, skin, everything suffers the submission.
Eventually I only gave Dying for Christmas a 3* rating at Goodreads because it did not work for me. I could not connect with the main character, nor did I really care about the villain and his motive.