A Gift for Dying by M. J. Arlidge reviewed

A Gift for Dying Book Cover A Gift for Dying
M. J. Arlidge
Penguin UK - Michael Joseph
March 07, 2019

Adam Brandt is a forensic psychologist, well used to dealing with the most damaged members of society.

But he's never met anyone like Kassie.

The teenager claims to have a terrible gift - with one look into your eyes, she can see when and how you will die.

Obviously, Adam knows Kassie must be insane. But then a serial killer hits the city. And only Kassie seems to know where he'll strike next.

Against all his intuition, Adam starts to believe her.

He just doesn't realise how deadly his faith might prove...


And now for something completely different! I loved M.J. Arlidge’s Helen Grace series set in southern England. A Gift for Dying takes us to Chicago. Instead of a female police officer we now have Adam, a forensic psychologist who deals with mental health patients, as a lead role. He assists the police from time to time and is called in for what looks to be an unusual case. The teenager concerned – Kassie – claims to look into people eyes and know when and how they will die. That can’t be the case can it?

A Gift for Dying follows Adam in his concern for, and initial disbelief of, Kassie. As you would expect there is a spate of serial killings in Chicago and the police are not inclined to pander to suggestions from a trouble teenager, or a forensic psychologist, of what may be behind this.

Parts of this story are fairly unpleasant though that is becoming the norm now. The story really is about Kassie and Adam with others having fairly minor roles at best. Kassie was definitely interesting with her unusual skill. By comparison to the other characters in this story, her persona felt quite developed. Adam’s character was ok but I was not fully convinced by him. The police seemed aggressively less than competent and rather single minded. For me other characters in this had little impact or interest other than Adam’s wife.

Overall I found this less than compelling and the story seemed drawn out. I think that I would maybe have stopped reading it were it not for the fact that it was a review copy. Inevitably I compared the story to the excellent Helen Grace series. I would happily recommend them to readers. The pace is excellent and they make for a tense enjoyable read. This book was not like that. The last third was not bad at all however the book had lost me quite some time before that. The ending I actually thought was pretty good too.

By all mean read the Helen Grace books, the majority of them are among the best thrillers I’ve read in recent years however I cannot recommend A Gift for Dying.

Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review