The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes

The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes

A man wakes up naked and cold, half-drowned on an abandoned beach. The only sign of life for miles is an empty BMW. Inside the expensive car he finds clothes that fit perfectly, shoes for his tattered feet, a Rolex, and a bank envelope stuffed with cash and an auto registration in the name of Daniel Hayes, resident of Malibu, California.

None of it is familiar.

What is he doing here? How did he get into the ocean? Is he Daniel Hayes, and if so, why doesn’t he remember? While he searches for answers, the world searches for him-beginning with the police that kick in the door of his dingy motel, with guns drawn. Lost, alone, and on the run, the man who might be Daniel Hayes flees into the night.

All he remembers is a woman’s face, so he sets off for the only place he might find her. The fantasy of her becomes his home, his world, his hope. And maybe, just maybe, the way back to himself.

But that raises the most chilling question of all: What will he find when he gets there?

The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes is a book I found incredibly hard to put down, practically unputdownable it was! I distinctly remember the moment when I decided to throw caution to the wind and start reading, it was raining – so much for the drought sweeping the nation – and I was in the middle of reading another book when I happened to pick up Marcus Sakey’s book out of curiosity and read the blurb on the back cover. I was intrigued by the concept and curious to discover what happens to Daniel Hayes before I’d even had chance to open the book and read the first page. I love books that do that, you just stop what you are doing and simply read, escapism at its finest. The danger in that of course is that the book then fails to live up to expectations but I have to say there was no chance that was going to happen here! I was right!

From the very moment we are introduced to the man on the beach in Maine – who we take for granted is Daniel Hayes – I was mesmerised. I really enjoyed how Sakey put us in this stranger’s shoes, a man who could remember certain things and find other actions totally alien. He would recognise that the empty car he discovers on the beach is a BMW yet unsure how it got there and how he associates the logo with the German car, clothes he can’t remember owning fit him like a glove and the powerful glock in the glove box a revelation. How does he know it’s a gun, how does he know it’s a glock and perhaps more importantly is it his? Amnesia’s a beeeatch!

Daniel, through a process of elimination, discovers his identity, or an identity he believes is his, an identity and a past –drip fed little by little – he will fight to confirm and make sense of. He is drawn to California by the mysterious image of a beautiful woman, yet he knows not why, but it goes without saying he doesn’t know who she is but he wants to know! It’s all somehow very real to Daniel and he sets about driving across the country, avoiding the police, until his memories begin to make sense.

Although an incredible thriller that kept me hooked until the final revelations it was Daniel’s memory loss and the re-discovery of his past that was the main draw for me. I just loved how it all tied in and the storyline progressed from a man who knew nothing when we first meet him and how he changed from the man he thought he was before his memory loss. How many of us, given the chance, would wipe the slate clean and start from new. This to a certain degree is what happens here.

The storyline is punchy, clever and complete – yet at the same time Sakey leaves us hanging with an unexpected revelation and twist in the final pages of the book that begs for completion! Along the way there were a few minor twists and turns I did see coming and a few I didn’t but the book allows you to think and happily sit back and enjoy the ride. Incredibly intelligent and assured Sakey doesn’t disappoint.

Characterisation is, as you would expect, solid and plenty of room for the three protagonists in The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes but I’m not going to talk about them in this review due to possible spoilers. This is one of those books that you need to pick up and know as much or little as Daniel Hayes and enjoy the moments of discovery with him.

Looking back on this novel it was the little things Sakey did best, little things that add up to deliver a giant of a book. He leaves nothing to chance and just when you think you have it sussed, bang, things change! A gripping novel that held my attention from the very first page until a dramatic and unexpected conclusion, this is certainly a must read for 2012.

400 pages – Publisher: Bantam Press (5 July 2012)

Available to buy from Amazon (Hardcover) & The Book Depository (Hardcover)

ISBN-10: 0593069501 — ISBN-13: 978-0593069509

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