A debut novel focuses on a woman who suddenly discovers she is dying.
How would you spend the next 24 hours if you knew they were to be your last? When Phoenix “Finn” Helen Collins wakes up in an Albuquerque, New Mexico, hospital bed, she overhears two men speaking outside her room. They are discussing her impending death—“Twenty-four hours? Maybe less.” She doesn’t know how she got there or why she is dying. And nobody will give her the answers. There is only one thing to do: disconnect all the beeping wires and tubes, get out of bed, and find out what’s going on. She dresses in her blood-covered clothes and exits the hospital, snagging a taxi. In her jacket pocket, she finds her wallet, which contains her driver’s license. She gives the cab driver the address on her license. Her name is listed on the apartment directory, together with someone named Cummings: “Oh, whoa, Walt Cummings. Of course.” Little pieces of memory begin to jump in and out. She used to be with Matt Bailerg until he found her in bed with Walt. There’s so much to learn and so many amends to make—and so little time. She heads to her car but it won’t start. Enter Gabriel, the sexy, helpful stranger who will keep showing up whenever Finn needs him most. Readers will struggle along with Finn as she tries to make sense of what is happening to her. Through Bertaud’s articulate, edgy prose, Finn shines as the charming narrator of her own madcap journey—funny, sarcastic, frightened, tough, and tender. “I want to know the reason,” she tells readers, referring to her terminal condition. “I need to know. It doesn’t have to be the whole story; a brief summary would suffice.” Disjointed memories move the mind-bending, baffling, and delightful story back and forth between past and present. The present is filled with a plethora of complicated events that blur the line between fantasy and reality. The pieces never quite fit together; everything is slightly askew. But hang on until the end. The final twist is worth the chaotic ride.
Sharp writing, a challenging mystery, and an exceedingly likable protagonist.