Publication: August 2012 from Razorbill Canada
Rating: 3 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I liked it
You wake in the middle of the night, your arms and feet pinned by strong hands. As you thrash your way to consciousness, a calm voice says, “Steady. We’re here to help.” Your mind registers a paramedic, a policeman, an ambulance. You are lying on the lookout at Keeper’s Point, the lookout Amanda Creen supposedly threw herself off. And you have absolutely no idea how you got there.
Aaron Rowe walks in his sleep. He has dreams he can’t explain and memories he can’t recover. Death doesn’t scare him – his new job with a funeral director may even be his salvation. But if he doesn’t discover the truth about his hidden past soon, he may fall asleep one night and never wake up.
The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner was not what I was expecting, and that’s completely okay! A book more character driven than focused on action, The Dead I Know was hard to put down, despite being a bit of a quieter book.
Aaron has started work at a funeral home, apprenticing to the funeral director John Barton. The beginning of the story details the beginning of his job, the dead that Aaron goes with John Barton to pick up, and glimpses of John’s family. Aaron is incredibly difficult to grasp, and yet not, at the same time. He rarely speaks to others, and seems very timid. He’s remarkably comfortable with the dead, but has trouble being around the mourners. As the story continues we get glimpses into Aaron’s problems with sleepwalking and the nightmares that are causing it. John Barton and his family, including daughter Skye (who, despite being a kid, I found incredibly annoying. A little bit endearing, she really appeared to help Aaron and some information comes to light that explains a bit about the way she is, but still annoying), draw Aaron out of his shell and discover the cause of his night time escapades.
Scot Gardner’s writing style and character voice is descriptive, a tad abrupt and just very…different, than what I’m used to. It was jarring in the beginning but by the end of the story you can see how well it fits the narrative and just works with the premise of the novel. The mystery behind Aaron’s sleepwalking is handled really well. It takes the course of the book to discover the reasons, with glimpses and hints throughout the story that eventually combine into Aaron’s backstory.
The Dead I Know by Scot Gardner is a quiet, intense look into the psyche of the main character, and despite the lack of huge action or complex secrets, the story draws you in and gets you thinking. One quote I really loved is found on page 92 of the paperback and showcases a bit of Aaron’s character:
“The police protected the living, ambulance officers protected the injured and we protected the dead. All as it should be.”
Paperback provided by Razorbill Canada in exchange for my honest review as part of a blog tour. Thank you!