Megan Goldin is one of my new favourite mystery writers. My introduction to her was the novel Night Swim and I absolutely loved it. I was privileged enough to receive, through NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press, a copy of her newest novel Awake. Goldin does not disappoint.
This novel is in the vein of the movie Memento and the book Before I go to Sleep where sleep is the enemy.
Our protagonist Liv suffers a trauma so severe she cannot remember it. Every time she wakes up she suffers short term memory loss. When we first meet Liv (present day) she finds herself in a cab with no ID and in possession of a bloody knife. Liv doesn’t remember the last two years of her life let alone how she got into that cab. The only clues to help her are written on her hands and arms. “ Stay awake” and “trust no one” are two such ominous clues.
The story moves effortlessly between two time periods; present day and a time set two years in the past.
For most of the novel we live in media res with an unreliable narrator. Alternate chapters do give us some sense of logic because we meet Darcy Halliday, a homicide detective who is trying to take her place in a department where women are few and far between. Darcy is first on the scene of a murder where “stay awake” is written on the window of the crime scene with the victims blood. This phrase will obviously thrust the two women together to seek the truth.
Stay Awake forces the reader to literally stay awake themselves with its rapid plot and overpowering suspense until the end of the novel is reached.