Miriam Black has a “gift.” One touch, skin to skin, allows her to see how a person will die. Specifically, she can see the exact date, time, and cause of death. Miriam was not born with this talent, it surfaced through a tragic incident in her life. We learn about her past through a series of interviews, which cut through the main story.
Eight years ago, when Miriam became aware of her ability, she ran away and has lived on the road ever since. When she comes in contact with folks who will soon die, she waits out their death and steals from their corpses, just enough to get by until she finds the next source of income.
Miriam is not a “good” person.
This novel begins with Miriam being “rescued” by Louis, a truck driver. After a short time in the truck together, she decides that she likes him and shakes his hand. Miriam sees a flash of Louis’ gruesome murder, his death is weeks away, and it is his association with Miriam that causes his demise. She immediately parts ways with Louis, she may be a hard-ass, but she does not want to see this kind man to die due to her.
Miriam is plagued by visions of Louis, the dead Louis, begging for her help. She knows, from experience, that you cannot change fate. Her attempts to change the fate of others in the past, ended tragically. Miriam runs from Louis, right into the bed of Ashley Gaynes, a con man, who has been tracking her for a several months. Ashley threatens to turn Miriam in to the police if she doesn’t agree to work with him. As Ashley points out, Miriam knows how to steal a wallet, but not how to open a safe. He forces Miriam to contact Louis, to stay close enough to him so that they can take his money upon his demise. Ashley’s cons have gone too far, placing Miriam, and Louis, in the sights of deadly enemies.
When I began reading this book, I would have said that there was no way that I would have enjoyed it as much as I have. Miriam really is an awful person; yet, at some point in the first half of the book, I converted to Team Miriam. She is a reluctant hero, but a hero none-the-less. Miriam fights for Louis, with full expectations of failure. She stands up – or flips off – Fate, in order to save a good man.
I would recommend this book to … folks that enjoy Christopher Moore and do not quiver in fear at excessive violence. There were a few parts of this book that really made me uncomfortable, and to those who know me… that’s quite a feat.
“’Goddamn, you love to hear yourself talk, don’t you?’
‘I do.’ She does.”
Favorite Chapter Title (ever): “The Sun Can Go Fuck Itself”
Find out more about Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds.