Reeling from the sudden news that his wife wants a divorce, Steven Blitz is thrown out of his house and told to stay with his brother. On his drive over, with deteriorating road conditions, Steven narrowly avoids a head-on collision. Rattled, Steven pulls over to gather himself and calm his nerves when he notices an altercation between a man and a woman. Attempting to intervene, Steven is stabbed in the gut and left to bleed out on the ground.
Sometime later, Blitz awakens in a hospital bed, surprised to have survived what surely should have been a fatal injury. But not everything is as it should be. His wife appears at his beside, relieved to hear of his survival. She brings in their daughter, which is especially shocking considering they do not have children. His phone is filled with unrecognizable texts and it’s not even the phone he remembers owning. He turns on the TV to find that the world is on the brink of nuclear war, but President Al Gore is determined to relax tensions.
It would be an understatement to suggest things get stranger from here on out.
I was lucky enough to find myself with an advanced copy of Hard Case Crime’s upcoming original release, THE NEXT TIME I DIE. Having sung the praises of James Kestral’s Hard Case Crime release FIVE DECEMBERS last year, I heard equally as good things about Jason Starr’s new novel. I can wholeheartedly agree with all the positive praise as this one knocked my socks off.
I am truly a sucker for alternate reality/butterfly effect fiction. Two of my favorite novels of the last few years were Blake Crouch’s DARK MATTER and RECURSION and I can guarantee that if you’re a fan of those books, you will absolutely love this one. It’s not often that I finish a book in under 48 hours, but with Jason Starr’s new novel, every spare moment I had was spent glued to my Kindle.
I loved the scenes where Steven would try to explain to others what he was experiencing. The fact that there was literally no way to convey to friends or family the depths of his confusion had me empathizing with his anxiety and frustration. He was consistently backed into a corner, left without a moment’s rest as he would try to navigate conversations about people or events he had absolutely no memory of.
THE NEXT TIME I DIE is a mind-bending fever dream of a novel; a story that had me gripped from beginning to end. It is a truly exceptional blend of Twilight Zone-inspired weirdness and classic noir storytelling.