This NetGalley find was pushed into my consciousness by an intriguing email, followed by an intrigued request to download. I love murder mysteries and thrillers, and this one was added to by the complication that everybody can only remember either yesterday, or the past two days. That means the murder needs to be solved that day, before all the suspects forget everything.
I downloaded this book last week, but read it yesterday, almost in a single sitting – it entranced me for the entire evening, and I was loath to do anything other than finish the book for the whole day.
How do you solve a murder when you can only remember yesterday?
There are two types of people in the world. Those who can only remember yesterday, and those who can also recall the day before.
You have just one lifeline to the past: your diary. Each night, you write down the things that matter. Each morning, your diary tells you where you were, who you loved and what you did.
Today, the police are at your door. They say that the body of your husband’s mistress has been found in the River Cam. They think your husband killed her two days ago.
Can you trust the police? Can you trust your husband? Can you trust yourself?
I really enjoyed the setup of this book – society is divided into monos and duos, who can remember either yesterday, or the two previous days. The fact that this was a thriller, a murder mystery, meant that the nuances of this carefully drawn world were drawn out organically – rather than simply being an exploration of what memory is and how crucial it is to our lives, the details of this alternate universe and how it differs from our own are subtly and skillfully intertwined with the actual plot.
I really very much enjoyed this twisting and turning mystery as we saw detective Hans try to unravel the story of what happened and how the body of a woman ended up in the river Cam, weighed down with stones. Told from four perspectives – detective Hans, victim Sophia, suspect Mark, and his wife Claire – this nuanced and exciting thriller flips seamlessly between perspectives, intertwining narratives subtly, especially since Sophia’s perspective is told to us from her diary – as Hans reads it, trying to solve the mystery.
Claire, as a character, was definitely the weakest of the four. A mono married to a duo author with political aspirations, she actually has little depth to her. The blurb paints her as the main character, but although she begins the narrative, I would personally say that it’s Hans who holds this whole book together. Claire is something of a background character, both in her personal life as she supports her superior Duo husband in his public appearances, and in the book itself. She plays a vital role, but she’s certainly not the star, and casting her as such in the blurb does this book a disservice.
Claire’s lack of depth also then undermines one of the big reveals about three-quarters of the way through the book. She’s been painted so thinly that it doesn’t actually seem in any way credible that she could play such a pivotal role.
A final twist in the last pages was also something of a disappointment, as it stretched credibility to the very limits – Sophia’s motivation was certainly believable, but the twist in the final pages was certainly a little too much for me to accept.
Generally, though, this was an excellently written thriller, with a hugely interesting alternate universe setting. Nods to how things would have played out the same – Tim Berners-Lee and Steve Jobs both get mentions – augment the believability of the world and the ingrained prejudice visible against ‘inferior’ monos is thoroughly woven throughout the narrative. Sophia and Hans were hugely compelling characters, and Mark stood up well too. Pitching the book as focused on Claire was, I think, a mistake which weakens what it really a very interesting and engaging book, and an excellent debut from an author I will certainly be looking out for in the future.